Veteran's Day is this Sunday, and it's a chance for America to honor those, both living and dead, who have served in the military.
There are many tributes to those troops, but for some of them, or their families, the tribute paid to them by the nation is no longer with them.
Those veterans served in harm's way and many times earned medals for their sacrifices.
Some have those medals proudly displayed in their homes, or have them tucked away for safe keeping.
But others can't find those medals, or have gotten rid of them because it was so long ago, the connection with the veteran and the family member who has them has dwindled.
"Those medals belong to the individuals that had earned them," said Maine Department Adjutant of the American Legion Lloyd Woods. "If these individuals are now deceased then they should be with the families as a part of memorabilia of that individual that did what they were asked to do by their country and they should be with the family or individual if possible."
Paul Zebiak, buys medals with links to Maine or Maine veterans, and then he keeps them in his collectable store on Central Street in Bangor, and if you ask him about one piece, he likely knows the back story with it. "I keep a file that's never really completed because I keep finding out new details about these individuals occassionally that will lead to current family that may want their items back."
In fact in June Zebiak made the connection between medals of Larry Nadeau he'd had for about a decade, and was able to return them to his brother Allen who was about 9 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. "It wasn't just the Purple Heart, there was other memorabilia there too that was with that, my brother's bracelet that my parents had bought him when he went to Vietnam was there, we had it, oh I got it," Allen Nadeau said. "I'm the last one, both my parents are gone, so I have children too, so these things will be handed down and that's the way it should be."
"If there is no family to maintain them at that point a collector such as myself, I would like to think provides a valuable service in maintaining these items and preserving the memory of the people who they were awarded to," said Zebiak who owns Martime International on Center Street in Bangor.
Lloyd Woods is the head of the American Legion in the state of Maine, and knows the value of those medals, personally. "Please do not dispose of those medals, the individual who earned them, I know my father was in World War II and I would very much love to have the medals that he had earned while he was in World War II. I believe my mother has them now and when something happens to my mother, when she passes on, I hopefully will be the one who obtains those medals, they mean a lot to me anyway."
"It's impossible to own somebody's valor and sacrifice or any of those attributes that these items stand for and to have possession of them is not something I take lightly." In fact Zebiak as a child made a plea to his father to apply for the medals he earned during his service to the country. Those medals arrived after his father passed away. "The two major medals probably would not have a retail value of beyond twenty five dollars, to me they are priceless because they are his awards so it's not necessarily value attached monetarily that provide the real value of these items, it's knowing who they belong to and what it represents."
Lloyd Woods of the Maine American Legion said they support any effort to reunite the medals with the veteran or the family who earned them.
And if anyone needs help in trying to track down missing medals, or even medals that should have been awarded but were not , he will do all he can to help out.
Lloyd H. Woods, Department Adjudent, the American Legion, Department of Maine, PO Box 900, Waterville, ME 04903-0900
Phone - (207) 873-3229
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Missing Medals Part 1