CORTLANDT, N.Y. -- The Town of Cortlandt is a place that honors its veterans.
On Thursday,Oct. 30, the town held a ceremony at Town Hall where it unveiled a Military Order of the Purple Heart memorial. Cortlandt is the first Purple Heart community in Westchester and is the first place in the region to have a memorial honoring the Purple Heart.
Purple Hearts are given to servicemen who have been wounded or killed in action. Almost two million purple hearts have been awarded since the program began in 1932.
Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi hosted the ceremony and was joined by members of the town board, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, County Legislator John Testa and Congresswoman Nita Lowey as well as veterans and purple heart recipients from throughout the county.
Eugene Lang, a Yorktown resident and purple heart recipient said this was a great honor.
"It represents what we have gone through," Lang, who was wounded in the Vietnam War in 1968, said.
Lang served in the 1st Air Cavalry and suffered a shrapnel wound to his right knee Lang fought for his Purple Heart for years until being rewarded the honor by Sen. Charles Schumer in 2012.
"This is extremely emotional," Lang said.
John Cito, a Yorktown resident who served active duty in the Berlin Conflict, also said he was honored by the memorial.
"It's important to see purple heart recipients be recognized," Cito said.
Renate DeAngelis and Vivian Allen, members of the Gold Star Mothers Club, a club for mothers who lost their children in conflict, were emotional as the memorial was unveiled.
"It's wonderful to remember those who lost their lives," DeAngelis said. "It's just wonderful."
William Nazaro, a Purple Heart recipient, was one of the driving forces in getting the memorial built. He praised the town board and other local officials for helping to provide the funding for the memorial.
"I took on a mission in memory of the sacrifices these men made," Nazaro said. "I salute you and thank you. It's only fitting that this monument be placed here. This was never about party politics, but providing services for veterans."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.