HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - Hank Druckerman knew that his father didn't know his own birthday. But it wasn't until recently that the Sun City Hilton Head resident learned why his family celebrated his father's birthday the day they did.
"That was the date, September 27, that he was wounded in a battle in the trenches in the first World War," said Druckerman. "And that's why he adopted that date."
That information became increasingly interesting to Druckerman when he discovered a group online that works to restore Purple Hearts to soldiers who lost them or never received them.
Like many World War I veterans, his father never received his.
"Gee, wasn't he entitled to a purple heart? I didn't know," said Druckerman. "I contacted my brother, Martin, who lives in White Plains, New York and is our family historian. I set the ball rolling and he pushed it a lot further."
The brothers wrote a few letters before Martin Druckerman contacted his local congresswoman.
From there, it did not take long for nearly 100 years of oversight to be resolved.
"It was surprisingly short, probably two months," said Druckerman. "And low and behold, they restored my father's purple heart and two other battle ribbons he was entitled to."
The Purple Heart was created by George Washington and only awarded to three soldiers in the Revolutionary War before going out of use.
It was reinstated retroactively after World War I, but a wounded WWI veteran would have had to make a claim to receive his medal, something Druckerman's father never did.
But on August 23, the Druckerman family was presented with the medals Private Harry Druckerman had earned in France in 1918, a ceremony that reached across years and generations.
"For his children, and his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren, it's something that we feel very proud of," says Druckerman. "He was a humble man, but he served his country and we're proud of him. And it just makes our love for him and our remembrance of him all the more special."