National Purple Heart Hall of Honor gets revamped, shares more stories

New Windsor, NY

Photo courtesy of Peter Bedrossian, program director at the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor

On Aug. 15, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor, N.Y., will re-open to the public with a new look and new stories to tell. The changes will better represent all branches of service and offer more personal insights into the lives of Purple Heart recipients, Peter Bedrossian, the program director at the hall, said.

Returning visitors will notice "a more visually rich tapestry than we had before," Bedrossian said. The artifacts will now lead visitors to the stories of individual recipients, across conflicts and branches of service.

For instance, one highlighted recipient is nurse Beatrice Mary McDonald, who is now believed to be the first woman to received the Purple Heart. She was wounded Aug. 17, 1917 and lost her right eye to shrapnel.

Or visitors might be drawn in by the story of the Navy corpsman who was wounded and realizing there were people worse off in the sick bay, clamped together his wound and helped load men onto aircraft before taking treatment. A lieutenant colonel on-duty at the Pentagon on 9/11 or a Medal of Honor recipient from Korea may also spark interest.

"These new exhibits tell a story in a different way--a much more visual way," Bedrossian said. "So people coming into the galleries now, we hope that this will stimulate both interest in and understanding for the Purple Heart story."

The renovation also will demonstrate "a concerted effort" to represent all five branches through artifacts and illustrations.

"Yes, differentiating the Coast Guard and Navy sometimes is difficult, but Coast Guard cutters are not like destroyers and aircraft carriers. So a Coast Guard veteran will recognize one of the images we have on our wall," Bedrossian said.

(To read more about Coast Guard Purple Heart recipients, click here:

The Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc., the non-profit responsible for the renovations, which began May 20, will hold a rededication on Aug. 15.

Though the museum itself will be closed on Purple Heart Appreciation Day this year, the Hall of Honor will hold an outdoor ceremony at 2 p.m. on Aug. 7.

It will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 40th anniversary of the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Two Purple Heart recipients will speak as representatives of these conflicts.

Bedrossian will highlight recipients from WWI through Afghanistan whose date of wounding was Aug. 7.

"We're talking about particular people. Oftentimes you lose that in the celebration of anything. Here are the faces and names of some of these people. This date as important to them for another reason," Bedrossian said.

This event is free and open to the public. But if you plan to attend, please call the Hall of Honor at 845-561-1765 in advance.

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