(VIDEO BELOW) – Last month, Congressman Niki Tsongas presented a Purple Heart posthumously to the family of Carmelo Sciacca of Lawrence. Wounded in action on Sept. 19, 1944 at the Moselle River (in the Metz region of France) Carmelo was under the command of General George C. Patton, under Patton’s 80th division 317th infantry. The battle was fought to create a bridgehead so the military could cross the Moselle River into Germany. It was one of the first river crossings into Germany by the Allied Powers.
Carmelo Sciacca was born in Lawrence, lived on Garden Street and worked in the textile mills most of his life. He was married to Laura L’arco and had two daughters. After moving to Florida, he died in 1979 at the age of 63.
Carmelo Sciacca was nominated for the Purple Heart but never physically received it. Despite the fact that Sciacca’s mother and father were Italian immigrants, he joined US Army to fight against the Axis powers that included his parents’ home country of Italy.
His grandson, Jack Roy of Haverhill, initially contacted Congressman Tsongas’ office to inquire about his grandfather’s Purple Heart, having learned his grandfather had been nominated for one.
“We weren’t sure he ever received it because nobody in the family could ever find it and there were no photos of him with it,” said Roy.
Tsongas investigated, and with the assistance of her aide Patrick Kenney, found out that the Purple Heart was indeed earned by Carmelo Sciacca. They then gathered the Sciacca and Roy families in her office on Union Street in Lawrence for a ceremony to award the medal posthumously.
Congressman Tsongas told The Valley Patriot she was “deeply honored to be able to right something for the Sciacca and Roy families after so much time. “He deserved it, and they deserved to have it in his memory,” she said.
“They also said he was entitled to a check but he wouldn’t take the check,” Geraldine Rydle, Sciacca’s daughter said. “I’ll take the check retroactively, though,” she said laughing. She explained that he didn’t want the check “because he was very patriotic. He just didn’t want it.”
The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces. Introduced as the “Badge of Military Merit” by General George Washington in 1782, the Purple Heart is also the nation’s oldest military award. In military terms, the award had “broken service,” as it was ignored for nearly 150 years until it was re-introduced on February 22, 1932, on the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth. The medal’s plain inscription “FOR MILITARY MERIT” barely expresses its significance.
Congressman Niki Tsongas
Geraldine Rydle, Sciacca’s Daughter
Jack Roy, Sciacca’s grandson