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Purple Hearts Reunited | Coming Home with Jamie Lee Thurston | Heritage Ford

Purple Hearts Reunited | Coming Home with Jamie Lee Thurston | Heritage Ford


Hey y’all Jamie Lee Thurston here and
I’m about to head to Veterans Memorial Park in South Burlington to meet with
veteran Zechariah Fike who started his own nonprofit dedicated to finding and
returning lost Purple Heart medals back home. The Purple Heart is awarded to
those who were wounded or killed while serving in the US military. Since its
creation in 1932 almost two million Purple Hearts have been awarded. Now over
the years many have been lost stolen or even sold to collectors Zac has made it
his mission to retrieve these medals and bring them back to their rightful homes
of honor. His organization Purple Hearts reunited has already returned five
hundred medals and that number is continuing to grow. When we receive a
medal the first thing we do is we do the analysis to determine where that medals
from through that we’re able to start with that name and do the historical
research to find your family we work our way down until we find a living
descendent we had that medal professionally framed and we’ll travel
thousands of miles to deliver these medals in person. When a family loses
something as special as a Purple Heart and you get the opportunity to return it
some 70 years later you’re bringing closure to a family, you’re answering a
lot of questions they never knew, and you’re bringing a small piece of him
back home. There’s a higher being that’s involved in what we do. You hear details
and you hear stories and you see a perspective I would have never seen
before in my life and my generation and younger are losing those strong pieces
of history that are so incredibly significant sometimes our researchers
find information that these families had no idea about and we bring details and
we bring history and we bring memories that they may have not had. I was just in
Kansas City and I did a World War One return then she goes, “oh my god I haven’t
seen this medal since I was four years old, the purple is still just as
beautiful.” It was healing, it was light, it was closure we have the Valor Guard Team which are
veterans that we are vetting and talking to to help us return these medals and
it’s cathartic for them it’s those veterans that were overseas that haven’t
quite found a way to transition back and they find it in speaking with these
families and returning a crucial piece of healing. You know I found my own
therapy through this project in 2009 my mom found a posthumous Purple Heart and
an antique shop it was a Christmas gift but as soon as I saw that medal I wanted
to know his story so it sent me on a journey to find out everything I could
about him and through that it led to the discovery of his family. So around this
return they wanted to have their first-ever family reunion so I got to
witness family members ages three years old to 90 years old meeting for the
first time and it became more than just the medal, it became reuniting a family.
That mission of getting in a plane and going to deliver a medal that’s my
mission. The objective is making that family
whole again. Zach was able to find his mission unfortunately that’s not the
case for many veterans there’s a wide variety of challenges that affect men
and women transitioning home from active duty and many don’t get the help that
they need. Soldiers going to combat you see a lot of good things and you see a
lot of bad things and each soldier deals with that differently when you come home
and you reintegrate into society you have challenges and I think soldiers try
to hide that initially and they shut down. The biggest thing for veterans that
come home is they miss the mission, they miss the camaraderie of their brothers
and sisters, and if you can find your own mission where you can give back to
others, find that one thing within your heart that you love and go for it for more information on the resources
and support available visit veterans.vermont.gov


Reader Comments

  1. ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!! 💜 Thank You to All Our Veterans for Their Service, and Sacrifices 💜 God Bless.
    Well Done!! Purple Hearts Reunited 💜 HTEAM and 💜😎Jamie Lee Thurston 💜

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