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The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor

logoWithin our book of remembrances and reflections Jim Bodenhamer has compiled the best list I have seen of our comrades who died as a result of combat action in Southeast Asia as well as other members of the class who were awarded the Purple Heart.

It is my hope and dream that all of us who were awarded the Purple Heart will be placed on the database maintained by the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor located north of the Academy at the New Windsor Cantonment.  Why there?  Read the following from their brochure.

New Windsor Cantonment is the site of the final encampment of America's first army at the close of our country's War of Independence.

To honor the service of his troops, General George Washington chose a select few of his troops to receive a small purple cloth Badge of Merit, the precursor to the Purple Heart award.  One of three known Badges of Military Merit, the only documented surviving example, is on exhibit here.

So it is natural that this significant historic site was selected to be the home of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.  In 1932 the new Purple Heart medal was presented to 150 veterans of World War I on these same historic grounds.

Some years ago a group of local people led by the editor of the /Sentinel/, a semi weekly in the area, and State Senator Bill Larkin, a retired LTC, USAR, began a campaign to build a building on part of the New Windsor Cantonment grounds which would honor those who have died as part of the New York State Park System.

This dream became a reality a few years ago, and the staff is trying to help veterans and next-of-kin capture all the names of those awarded the Purple Heart.  There are no complete federal records as the Purple Heart has been awarded with and without accompanying paperwork.  An acquaintance here in Cornwall told me that he was given one by a general in a hospital in Japan as he recuperated from wounds suffered in a sapper attack before returning to Vietnam because of his critical signal MOS.  There was never any paperwork.

The Hall also invites Purple Heart awardees to tell their story on video for posterity.  In time we will all join the Corps in the shadows and our descendants and our future citizens will value learning of the sacrifice of freedom from the lips of those who made it.

Directions for enrolling can be found on their website www.thepurpleheart.com with information on the Hall and ways to enroll from a distance.  For those who need a visual and tactile reminder, a limited number of Hall brochures will be available at the Class registration.

Tom Margrave
| Contact | mhostler@west-point.org