May 22, 2009
For Release: Immediate
National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Website Helps Recognize Heroic Veterans
Agency hopes new feature will lead to additional entries and information
The Roll of Honor recognizing the service of military members killed or wounded in combat will be more widely available for the public to see this Memorial Day online at www.thepurpleheart.com. A new website feature enables the public to search for Purple Heart recipients enrolled with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, which is located on the same grounds as the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site in New Windsor. In addition, audio samples of some of their stories are now available online at www.nysparks.com.
"The Roll of Honor memorializes the names of those men and women who sacrificed so much for our nation and our freedom," said Carol Ash, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "It is truly fitting that this Memorial Day, the relatives, friends and descendants of members of the military wounded or killed in action can take a moment to recognize their loved ones' services memorialized on the Roll of Honor from anywhere in the world. For many people, the virtual Roll of Honor may be the first time they will be able to see for themselves official recognition of these sacrifices."
"The men and women who have sacrificed for their country by risking life and limb in her service deserve the kind of recognition this new honor roll provides," said Major General Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General and Commander of the New York National Guard. "Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have shed blood in defense of the United States and our liberty deserve to be recognized and remembered. I am pleased to see that the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is ensuring that the service of these Americans is being captured and made available to the public."
"Connecting relatives, friends, and descendants of members of our military wounded or killed in action to their Hall of Honor located right here in New York presents a tremendous opportunity to make the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Park a true resource for all New Yorkers, and those who visit our State Parks," said Jim McDonough, Director, New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs.
Prior to the opening of the Hall in November 2006, there was no national database of Purple Heart recipients. By bringing the Roll of Honor to the Internet, the public can now see the available name, photograph hometown, branch of service, conflict and date of wounding of each Purple Heart recipient on record at the Hall. The database is updated weekly to accommodate the information being added at the Roll of Honor on a continuing basis. To date, the Hall has approximately 145,000 Purple Heart recipients enrolled from all branches of service, all wars for which the Purple Heart was awarded, and from all across the nation.
The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor - the nation's first institution dedicated to honoring and memorializing Purple Heart recipients by presenting and preserving their stories - relies in large part on medal recipients and their friends and families to provide much of the information. In many instances, the record may only contain a name or limited details because the Hall has not received the complete information regarding the recipient. There are an estimated 1.8 million medal recipients, and many of their official records have been lost to history.
"State Parks is hopeful this new element will strengthen the effort to expand the database," Ash said. "The public will be able to easily see whether there is complete information about medal recipients - or even if someone is listed at all - and help us obtain additional details. The Hall of Honor has made tremendous strides in bringing overdue recognition to Purple Heart recipients, but we still have a very long way to go."
The public can help build the database by providing documentation of known Purple Heart recipients. This can include a variety of materials including the DD-214 or other discharge form listing awards, medical forms, a photograph of the back of the medal bearing the recipient's name, or other supporting materials. The Hall is also looking for photographs, telegrams, letters home, news articles or other materials that help put a face and a story with each recipient's name. A ROH enrollment form can be downloaded from the website at: www.thepurpleheart.com and mailed, faxed or emailed to the Hall.
More detailed information is available at the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor itself, where it can be accessed at eight interactive computer stations. Visitors to the Hall of Honor can learn about individual Purple Heart recipients by reading the stories, and looking at the photographs and other documents that have been submitted to the Hall of Honor.
The Hall of Honor is adjacent to the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site, where General George Washington moved his army at the end of the Revolutionary War. To honor the service of his troops, General Washington chose a select few to receive a small purple cloth Badge of Military Merit. The present day Purple Heart medal took as its inspiration the color and shape of the Badge of Military Merit and added the image of George Washington to honor the man who valued his soldiers. In 1932, the new Purple Heart medal was presented to 138 veterans of World War I on these same historic grounds.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 35 historic sites and 178 parks. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com.