NEW WINDSOR – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the completion of a major $17 million expansion of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in Orange County, not far from where George Washington first established the Badge of Military Merit, the inspiration for the modern Purple Heart. The 7,000-square-foot National Purple Heart Hall of Honor features improved visitor access and new and refurbished exhibit space, with an increased emphasis on stories of individual award recipients. The facility is reopening to the public following an accelerated one-year construction schedule.
Additionally, at a Veterans Day ceremony to dedicate the new wing, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled a plaque to honor the memory of the late New York State Senator William Larkin, Jr., who was instrumental in establishing the Hall of Honor in 2006 and secured $10 million for its expansion.
“New Yorkers are eternally grateful to the valiant men and women who have served our country in an effort to protect our freedom and our values,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we honor our service members this Veterans Day, we should all reflect on the tremendous sacrifices these heroes, and their families, have made in order to safeguard our way of life. With the opening of the newly expanded National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, New Yorkers and visitors alike can convey gratitude and appreciation by admiring and learning about all that these heroic individuals had to put on the line in order for us to live in a free nation.”
“On Veterans Day, we are proud to announce the completion of the expansion and renovation of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “With support from the state, the late Senator Bill Larkin, a brave World War II veteran and tireless public servant, and others, this facility has grown to include enhanced exhibits and galleries with an increased focus on stories of our war heroes and Purple Heart recipients. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor stands as a tribute to our veterans and honors their sacrifice. I encourage all New Yorkers to visit this museum and recognize and celebrate the men and women who risked their lives to protect us and keep us safe.”
Opened in 2006, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is the first facility in the nation dedicated to the estimated 1.8 million recipients of the Purple Heart, which is awarded to American military personnel who have been wounded or killed by enemy action.
The project added 4,300 square feet of new space to create a new museum wing to upgrade exhibits, improve visitor circulation and provide public gathering space. The galleries/exhibits incorporate integrated audio-visual and media presentations, as well as museum-quality casework for each area with interpretive graphics, locally controlled lighting, touch-screen interactive monitors, and multiple large-format graphic displays. The expanded exhibits will include more personal stories, interactive displays, and artifacts that highlight the experiences of featured Purple Heart recipients. The new exhibits allow the Hall to tell individual stories about joining the service, the day of the incident, field treatment and evacuation, the changing nature of warfare, the consequences of war, road to recovery and the ultimate sacrifice. Exterior enhancements include a redesigned entrance, improved accessibility, native landscaping, more convenient parking and walkway improvements.
During the dedication of the new wing, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled a plaque to honor the memory of the late New York State Senator William Larkin, Jr., who was instrumental in establishing the Hall of Honor in 2006 and secured $10 million for its expansion. The plaque recognizes Senator Larkin’s lifetime of service, which began at the age of 16 when he volunteered for service during World War II. Later he fought in the Korean War and eventually served more than 23 years in the United States Army, beginning as a private and retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. After leaving the Army, he served 40 years in the New York State Assembly and Senate, where he was a staunch advocate for veterans. In addition, Senator Larkin was posthumously awarded the New York State Veterans’ and Military Champion Award for his lifetime of service and unwavering commitment to the men and women who selflessly served the United States of America and New York State.
Newburgh philanthropist William Kaplan was awarded the New York State Veterans’ Community Ally and Advocate Award for his outstanding advocacy and support to veterans, active-duty/reserve military and their families in the Greater Hudson Valley Region, as well as for his commitment to establishing the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “There is much we can learn from the courageous Americans who sacrificed for their country on the battlefield. This newly expanded National Purple Heart Hall of Honor provides a worthy and multidimensional memorial where people can come to appreciate the lives and legacies of service members from across the country.”