The navy leather was pebbled and worn around the box’s perimeter. There was a bare patch around the latch that invited me inside. I opened the container and was greeted by 3 worn medals with century old ribbons of different color. What did they mean and who exactly did they belong to? The medal with the rainbow ribbon – vertical stripes with the center stripe red and orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet stripes spanning out from the red in the center – was loose. It had never been attached to the interior velvet. I would start with that one first.
Engraved on the back of the metal is an arched heading with the words, “THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILIZATION.” The bottom arc contains six stars that are evenly divided from the center column of seven staffs wrapped in a chord. A shield stands on top of the staff with a U on the left side and an S on the right. Below the U are the names of WWI Allies: France, Italy, Siberia, Japan, Montenegro, Russia, and Greece. The right side’s Allied countries are listed below the S and include Great Britain, Belgium, Brazil, Portugal, Rumania ( spelled with a u instead of the o we see today), and China. Each countries name takes up one line.
This was my dad’s father’s Word War I Victory Medal. The medal’s ribbon contains two clasps that read: MEUSE-ARGONNE on the top bar and DEFENSIVE SECTOR on the bottom. With the help of Google, I learned this means my grandfather was in the Meuse-Argonne Battle and in the defense, which was a smaller engagement. I never met this man as he died the year I was born, but he was a hero who saw unbelievable destruction of both life and property. I am amazed that I am part of his legacy.