The Purple Heart

Another iconic medal today. In the realm of military collectibles, the Purple Heart holds a special place, symbolizing bravery and sacrifice. The medal’s journey from its inception in 1922 to its current design reflects significant historical shifts.

The early medals, with their gold finish and purple glass enamel heart, evolved during World War II to a more practical purple celluloid center due to mass production needs. Notably, WWII versions feature a sewn-down medal bar, while later ones have a slot fitting for the ribbon.

One of many recipients, the medal shown here was Arthur Wayland Clemmer, a U.S. Army Warrant Officer from Kanawha, West Virginia. Clemmer’s service number, 35211203, marks his unique place in military history. Awarded the Purple Heart for a wound sustained in service, Clemmer’s story adds a human dimension to the medal’s legacy. Born in 1917 and passing in 1984, his life encapsulated the experiences of many soldiers of his era.

For collectors, the nuances of the Purple Heart, such as naming conventions (hand-engraved in early versions, later machine-engraved) and manufacturing details (some medals numbered for production tracking), are of great interest. Additionally, multiple awards are denoted by bronze oak leaf clusters on the ribbon.

Arthur Clemmer’s Purple Heart is not just a medal; it’s a tangible piece of history, connecting collectors to the personal stories of those who served. It stands as a tribute to individual courage and a collective memory of sacrifice.