ALBANY – New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday a $10 million expansion of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor to further recognize and pay tribute to those who have been awarded the Purple Heart, America’s oldest military decoration.
The expansion will include a new wing with enhanced and interactive exhibits and galleries, improved pedestrian circulation throughout the Hall, public gathering space, increased programming, a redesigned entrance, improved accessibility, native landscaping, more convenient parking and several walkway improvements.
“New York is proud to honor the brave men and women who have fought to protect the freedom and values and to provide further recognition to those wounded in combat while defending this state and this nation,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we honor our veterans and their families this Veterans Day, these enhancements to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor will serve to forever honor the courage and accomplishments of all service members.”
The Hall of Honor is the first in the nation dedicated to commemorating the sacrifices of the estimated 1.8 million recipients of this award.
The new expansion will allow the Hall of Honor to collect, preserve and share more stories of Purple Heart recipients from all branches of service and across all conflicts for which the award has been available.
Final designs of the expansion are expected to be complete by next year with construction beginning in 2020.
The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located on the same grounds that were both occupied during the final months of the American Revolutionary War and later in 1932 when the first Purple Heart medals were awarded to 137 local World War I veterans.
The Purple Heart is awarded to those who have been killed or wounded by enemy action.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “The expansion of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor will provide greater access for connecting and honoring our veterans for their dedicated service and achievement of the country’s oldest military decoration. With these improvements the Hall will continue to serve as a remarkable destination for commemorating the lives and legacies of service members across the country.”
Senator William Larkin, Retired Lieutenant Colonel who Served in Combat in Korea, said, “I want to thank Governor Cuomo for this significant investment into the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor. As a member of the Genesis Group, we began the process of establishing the Hall of Honor right here in the Hudson Valley more than 20 years ago. Our mission at that time was to provide a place of solace and reflection for America’s Purple Heart recipients and Gold Star families. With this new expansion we will build on our current foundation and continue to appropriately honor those veterans that sacrificed so much for our country, as well as their families.”
In 2016, through grants and private donations, State Parks completed a $1.4 million upgrade of the existing facilities that included the Roll of Honor, an electronic database where visitors can search for Purple Heart recipients.
The Roll of Honor currently contains recipients from all fifty states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa and the Philippines. The Roll of Honor also contains the names of recipients who have served from the Civil War to today.
The existing gallery exhibits begin by taking visitors through a visual timeline of America’s 20th and 21st century conflicts.
An Interactive touchscreen provides visitors with information on conflicts from the Civil War through Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (Afghanistan) and Operation Inherent Resolve (Iraq, Syria).
This interactive exhibit represents the range of conflicts for which the Purple Heart has been available.
The Main gallery exhibits provide visitors with a more personal history of the Purple Heart through artifacts and in the words of the recipients themselves, including a ten-minute video which provides visitors with a window on the Purple Heart experiences of nine Purple Heart recipients.
The Roll of Honor can be viewed through kiosks that visitors can search to view the stories of enrolled Purple Heart recipients.