SELINGSGROVE, Pa. -- A nonprofit foundation is on a tour through Pennsylvania, finding new homes for lost Purple Hearts of fallen soldiers.
Stops on Thursday included Selinsgrove and Pottsville.
Over the summer, a daughter of a veteran in Selinsgrove went to a yard sale. While searching for a can't-miss deal, she discovered a Purple Heart inside a small box, not the proper home for such a precious item.
That find led us to today when the Purple Heart of Pvt. Raymond McDevitt of Shamokin was donated to Snyder County Veterans Affairs.
Pvt. McDevitt was born in January of 1909 in Shamokin. When he was 31 years old, he moved away from Sunbury and enlisted in the Army. He'd go on to serve in the Philippines, where he died in 1942 after a Japanese attack following Pearl Harbor. For decades, his Purple Heart has never had a permanent home until now.
"We're a small national nonprofit and we rescue stolen and lost medals of valor. We return them to their families and if there's no families or next of kin, then we do a home of honor, which is what we're doing here," explained Jessica Jaggars of Purple Hearts Reunited.
Pvt. McDevitt has no remaining family or next of kin, so the Purple Heart was donated to the Union Snyder Community Action Agency, home of Snyder County Veterans Affairs.
During a July trip to a yard sale in Selinsgrove, a daughter of a veteran discovered McDevitt's purple heart, which got this whole thing in motion.
"This young man that we never knew, his medal of valor went from a box at a yard sale, now it's going to be framed and hung at our agency. That's pretty awesome," said Tony Korzenaski, director of veterans affairs.
"The concepts of honor and service are deeply embedded in our values, so to be able to offer a home for this Purple Heart, it really means a lot," said Sue Auman, Community Action Agency.
Purple Hearts Reunited is on a tour through Pennsylvania right now, donating six Purple Hearts across the state.
The next stop after Selinsgrove is the historical society of Pottsville. The Purple Heart of Capt. Walter Yoder will be donated to executive director Tom Drogalis.
"These medals are more than just medals. They're closure, they're memories, they're history. It's just incredible. I can't think of another word to describe it," Jaggars said.
After that dedication in Pottsville, Purple Hearts Reunited will travel to Wilkes-Barre on Friday. The Purple Heart of PFC Edmund Rogoski will be donated to Hal Gabriel, the principal of Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre.