While almost all of us are aware that the Purple Heart medal is given to those who are wounded or killed fighting on behalf of the United States of America, there are a few other things about the Purple Heart that you may not know.

One of those things is that not everyone who was awarded a Purple Heart still has it in their (or their family's) possession.

My family is lucky and honored to have my dad's.

Amy Jacobsen, Townsquare Media

The Purple Heart Is Our Nation's Oldest Military Award Still Presented To Service Members

The roots go all the way back to a somewhat famous American, General George Washington, according to USO.org:

The Badge of Military Merit is instead considered to be the first U.S. military decoration and the Purple Heart’s predecessor.

According to Washington, who designed the Badge of Military Merit in the form of a cloth purple heart, the Badge of Military Merit would be given to soldiers who displayed “not only instances of unusual gallantry in battle, but also extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way.”

The Badge of Military Merit later became evolved into what we now know as the Purple Heart, which is still presented to qualified U.S. service members today.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs Has 11 Purple Heart Medals He Wants To Return To Those Who Earned Them

Mike Frerichs calls the effort to return the Purple Heart Medals "Operation Purple Heart," and has released information that might help the rightful owners of the medals or their families make a claim on the medals with the Treasurer's Office iCash website.

His office released a list of the last names associated with the safe deposit box in which the medals were found, the date in which the medal was recorded with the state treasurer’s office and the location of the bank. They include several banks in Illinois and one in Portland, Oregon.

Frerichs asks that anyone who may have a lead on locating a veteran or his or her family to contact his office.

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