September 2016, Washington, D.C. ____ Representative Paul
Cook (R-Apple Valley) introduced HR 6234, a Bill to prohibit the sale of any Purple Heart medal presented by the
government to a wounded service member or their family.
Military collectors often acquire these Purple Hearts, sometimes through
underhanded means, and resell them as collectable items. These medals sell for
hundreds and even thousands of dollars on the collector market.
Representative Cook, wounded twice in combat himself,
military collectors cheapen the Purple Heart by buying and selling this symbol
of sacrifice like a pack of baseball cards. I’m committed to defending our
Veterans and that means preserving their symbols of honor like the Purple
Heart. These medals belong with families or in museums, not on some collector’s
Congressman Paul Cook, a member of the House Natural
Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an
infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine
Corps. During Cook’s time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple
Mullen reads the citations for seven soldiers receiving Purple Hearts for
wounds sustained in Afghanistan.
Soldier is awarded the Purple Heart during a ceremony on
Corrado Piccoli Purple Heart Preservation Act
Bill-HR 6234 is named for Private Corrado Piccoli, a WWII
infantryman, killed in action in 1944. A Purple Heart medal accompanied the
telegram informing Private Piccoli’s family of his death. Sadly, years later
and after his parents’ passing, the medal was lost. Army Captain Zachariah Fike
discovered the lost medal in 2011 (37 years later) and, after researching the
name engraved on the medal, returned it to Private Piccoli’s surviving
siblings. The experience inspired Captain Fike to found Purple
Hearts Reunited, an organization that has, to date, returned over
300 Purple Hearts and rescued 700 more.
As Veterans or their survivors pass away, dozens of these
Purple Hearts become lost every year and
find their way into pawn shops, junk stores, and estate sales. Service
organizations, like Purple Hearts
Reunited, work tirelessly to rescue these medals and return them to
families. The profiteering actions of military collectors make this task even
more difficult as medals find their way onto the market and away from their
rightful places of honor.