Athletes, actors and musicians have countless halls of fame and other venues to celebrate their accomplishments. In our area, we have the baseball, soccer and boxing halls of fame. That’s okay. Many athletes and musicians have made contributions to our society.
Now, I am happy to report, heroes of a higher order will also have a hall in their honor. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is slated to open this November -- right here in New York’s historic Hudson Valley region.
The Purple Heart medal has been awarded to nearly 2 million brave U.S. military men and women who have been wounded or killed in combat. It was started by President George Washington when he was commander of the American forces during the revolution. The New York State Senate was instrumental in securing the issuance of a postage stamp commemorating the Purple Heart award.
The Purple Heart Hall of Honor aims to preserve the extraordinary stories of all recipients, deceased or alive, through videotaped interviews, photos, letters and other mementos, as well as an Internet connection to classrooms and libraries.
The New Windsor Cantonment Historic Site in Vails Gate, Orange County, was designated by The Military Order of the Purple Heart to be the hall’s permanent site because of its historical significance: it was the final winter camp of Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army during the American Revolution. The purple cloth Badge of Merit that Gen. Washington presented to a select few of his troops was the inspiration for The Purple Heart Medal. The image of Washington was added to the color and shape of the Badge of Merit, and in 1932, the first new Purple Heart medals were given to 150 veterans of World War I on the same historic grounds in New Windsor, New York.