It's a gut wrenching, get out your hankies, Christmas story. In Holland Michigan, a few weeks before Christmas a soldier pawned his Purple Heart to pay his Christmas bills. The shop owner, himself a Viet Nam vet, accepted the pawn, but assured the soldier that his combat medal would never be sold but would remain on display in the shop window, whether or not he was able to redeem the pawn or not.
Word got out first via local media and then went viral as major news outlets from NPR to Stars and Stripes and Russia Today broke the story. Meanwhile, back in Holland, the pawn shop owner was fielding hundreds of calls from outraged citizens offering to pay the pawn and have the medal returned to its owner before Christmas. The pawn was paid by an anonymous grateful American and the medal was returned to its owner-- an active duty soldier, home from Afghanistan on Christmas leave, who prefers to remain anonymous.
The moral of this story is that sometimes yellow ribbons and CARE packages just don't cut it.
This is a Christmas story that, as an American, I don't ever want to see repeated.
P.S. Here's the rundown on just what it takes to be awarded a Purple Heart from Wikipedia
For starters The Purple Heart is:
"awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after April 5, 1917, has been wounded or killed."