WATERLOO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Memorial Day is a day to recognize and remember our fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. In Waterloo, its significance is felt even stronger as the village is the official birthplace of Memorial Day. 

After a two year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Village came together once again Monday afternoon for the special day. This time the festivities included a long overdue ceremony, officially recognizing and honoring the local Purple Heart Wall of Honor monument.

The Purple Heart Wall of Honor has been in Lafayette Park since 2020 and lists the names of 100 local veterans who received a Purple Heart for their service in the United States military. 

Among those 100 names is William J. Twist Sr. a Waterloo native who served in the United States Army. Twist was wounded during the Korean War in 1953 and later received the Purple Heart Award. Twist passed away in 2000, but this Memorial Day his five children said he’s finally getting the recognition he never thought he deserved. 

“He didn’t think that he did anything special,” his daughter Margaret Musto said. “He didn’t think that, but now we all know.”

William J. Twist Sr., Purple Heart Recipient

Musto said it was a very special moment hearing her fathers name called out among the other veterans during the ceremony, adding that if her mother was still alive she would have loved this monument. 

The idea for the special piece came from veteran advocate Jack O’Connors who proposed the idea to Village Mayor Jack O’Connor back in 2020. As the birthplace of Memorial Day, Mayor O’Connor said it was a no-brainer to bring the monument to Lafayette Park.

“It was really kind of heartwarming because I’ve come by here during certain parts of the day and you’ll see people in front of it take a knee, there’s people rubbing it like they do on the Vietnam Wall, the community and all sorts of people have really taken possession of this.”

Jack O’Connors, Veterans Advocate

The monument is now a living artifact, the Village hoping to add more names to the granite as more applications are submitted to honor those who gave some and some who gave all. 

If you’re interested in nominating a loved one for the Purple Heart Wall of Honor, click here for an application.