Former longtime New York state Senator Bill Larkin will be buried with full honors at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Efforts also are under way to mint a coin in the name of a local veterans history museum that Larkin helped found.
Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney says, in addition to burial plans, there is more to be done in honor of the decorated combat veteran who died August 31 at age 91.
“I’m excited that we are going to vote out of the House this month the Purple Heart Hall of Honor coin that will be minted at West Point that will bring millions of dollars to that institution that he cared so much about, the Purple Heart Hall of Honor, which is named after him,” Maloney says. “And so I can’t think of a more fitting tribute than to mint a U.S. coin to support the Hall because, ultimately, anybody who knows Senator Larkin knows that the Purple Heart was really close to his heart and the focus of so much of his effort.”
Larkin was a charter member of the Genesis Group, which founded the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor, which also sits in Maloney’s 18th District. Maloney attended Thursday’s funeral service for Larkin in Cornwall-on-Hudson.
“It’s going to have to pass the Senate, but I’m going to cautiously predict to you that that will happen. We have secured more than 300 co-sponsors. This has been six years in the making, by the way, in the House of Representatives. This only happens twice in every Congress,” says Maloney. “You’ve got to get more than 290 co-sponsors, which is not easy to do, and you’ve got to be first, and we achieved that goal this Congress. That’s why we’re getting a vote on the bill.”
He says after the cost to the taxpayers is covered, all proceeds will benefit the Hall of Honor. Larkin, a Republican who served nearly 40 years in the state Legislature, also initiated the campaign to create the Purple Heart Forever stamp. Larkin retired from the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. Republican Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus:
“At the end of the day, his passion was for veterans, and that’s what really kept him going,” Neuhaus says.
“I’m very excited that the senator is going to be buried with full military honors at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He did an enormous amount to support the Academy. He was an honorary graduate of the class of 1948, and a member of their association of graduates. It was a big priority for him. He hosted the cadets day in Albany every year where they could meet their representatives,” Maloney says. “And, of course, he was an extraordinary example of service in the military. This is a combat veteran of two wars, as someone who used to complain about his feet when we were doing events together, and I knew it was because he was still suffering the effects of frostbite from the Korean conflict.”
“He was tremendously patriotic and loyal to America, and it came across all the time in a way that I greatly admired and respected,” Mayer says.
Democratic New York state Senator Shelley Mayer, whose 37th District includes portions of Westchester County, also attended the funeral service.
“He really was a pretty extraordinary senator and person. I always said, he and I had disagreements on issues but, if you cared about veterans, you were in his corner and he was in your corner. And so we always shared that,” says Mayer. “My father also served in World War II. I had an affinity with his stories.”
Larkin represented the 39th Senate District that includes parts of Orange, Rockland and Ulster Counties. He retired from the Senate in 2018. Former Assemblyman James Skoufis, a Democrat, won the race for the open Senate seat. Larkin was the last World War II veteran in the state legislature.