Rep. Paul Cook Reintroduces Bill to Ban Sale of Purple Heart Medals
WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) reintroduced HR 544, the Private Corrado Piccoli Purple Heart Preservation Act.
The bill extends protections of original Purple Heart medals that the government presented to a wounded service member or the service member’s family. Currently, second hand dealers sell lost or discarded Purple Hearts for hundreds or even thousands of dollars of profit with little reverence for the personal sacrifice paid by a member of the armed forces.
HR 544 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. An Army Major discovered the lost medal in 2011 and, after researching the name engraved on the medal, returned it to Private Piccoli’s surviving siblings. The experience inspired the foundation of 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, secondhand stores, and estate sales. Service organizations like Purple Hearts Reunited work tirelessly to rescue these medals and return them to families. While military collectors often acquire these medals for historical preservation, dealers mark up prices in an effort to take advantage of this good will. This bill does not seek to punish collectors. Instead, its purpose is to prevent profiteering from the sale of a medal that was already paid for by an American’s ultimate sacrifice.
Members of Congress, along with a coalition of 32 Veterans organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Purple Hearts Reunited support this legislation. This bill protects protect the sanctity of the award through legislation that prevents the future sale of original Purple Hearts similar to protections already in place for the Medal of Honor. The bill does not stop recipients and families from gifting or donating their medals, but it does protect the integrity of the medal and the legacy of the veteran that earned it.
Congressman Cook, wounded twice in combat himself, said, “These profit-seeking dealers 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 an auction block.”