A 120-year-old Civil War medal is finally on display for history buffs to see, thanks to an anonymous donor.
Back in July, the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick, Maine received the honor awarded to Col. Joshua Chamberlain in 1893 for his heroism during the Battle of Gettysburg, the Times Record reported. This rich piece of history arrived with just a simple unsigned note that it be returned “in honor of all veterans.”
The only other known fact about the donor was that he or she made the discovery after buying some items from a church fundraising sale, and had found the medal inside a book she had bought.
Historical society director Jennifer Blanchard was initially skeptical considering that Chamberlain’s Medal of Honor was already on display at Bowdoin College. But after months of close examination, the society learned that the one it had was a redesigned version. The medal it had received over the summer was the original that the esteemed colonel proudly wore, according to the outlet.
“Our gratitude to the donor who discovered this treasure and knew of its importance to us and to the State of Maine knows no bounds,” Blanchard told the Times Record.
While this mystery donor has shied away from the spotlight, another do-gooder determined to send war medals where they belong has taken his mission public.
After noticing a boom in the Purple Heart market, Zachariah Fike decided to launch a nonprofit to return these distinguished awards to their rightful owners.
“I know I’m outnumbered on this -- there's hundreds of collectors selling them and buying them compared to one guy who’s on this crusade,” Fike, the founder of Purple Hearts Reunited, told NBC News last September. “But if I can just reach one or two of these dealers and convince them to at least try to reunite the medals with the families of the recipients, well, then I’ve done some justice.”
While the Afghanistan War veteran may be “outnumbered,” he’s succeeded in bringing relief to many families.
One medal in particular led him to Adeline Rockko, the sister of Corrado A.G. Piccoli, an Italian translator for the Army who was killed in Action during WWII. NPR reported last summer.
It was a reunion that finally gave Rockko something to remember her brother by.
“As I grew older," Rockko told NPR, "and missed my brother more and more, I realized, Well, this is the only tangible thing that we have left."