GURLEY, Ala. (AP) — The ceremony appears so ordinary, just seven people huddled in the den of a two-bedroom house with a tin roof.
Judy Krause-Mobley calls this 1870s house her "memorabilia house," a place where her children and other relatives can come to learn about family history. Around noon this last Friday, Krause-Mobley, her brother Larry and sister-in-law Lucy are about to receive more family history than any of them can fathom.
They already know about the Purple Heart, awarded to Veer M. Krause, a cousin, after his death in the Battle of the Naktong Bulge in South Korea on Sept. 8, 1950.
They know they'll be receiving Veer's Purple Heart because a man in Jacksonville, Ill., bought it for a dollar at a garage sale.
"That man knew what it was and knew it was not where it should be," said Ken Shepard, the chapter commander of the local Military Order of the Purple Heart. "He could not leave it there and let some kid wear it. He knew someone had to track this down."
The man contacted a reporter at The Jacksonville Journal-Courier. The newspaper asked the office of U.S. Rep. Aaron Shock, R-Ill., to help, and the search led to Krause-Mobley in Gurley.
Krause-Mobley's family, though, is unaware that they are also about to receive a box of family photos and some rolled-up proclamations, including a memorial signed by President Truman.
They have never seen a photo of Veer, better known to them as "Worth," except for a recent newspaper clipping of his second-grade class photograph.
But when the day is over, long after the ceremony that lasts about 15 minutes or so, Krause-Mobley sifts through the box of photos and finds what she believes is her first glimpse of a grown-up Veer.
"This is like heaven," she said.
The ceremony becomes anything but ordinary as soon as Shepard arrives at the house just after 11:30 on Friday. He's holding the shoe boxes that contain the Purple Heart, Veer's Good Conduct Medal, the photos and the proclamations.
The medals and proclamations were for Veer M. Krause, a 20-year-old who liked to fire his M-1 rifle "almost as much as I like to eat," as he wrote Krause-Mobley's father, Elmouth.
By most accounts, Veer Krause, a member of the 38th Infantry, had been in Korea for less than three weeks when he died.
"Freedom lives, and through it he lives - in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men," read the end of the proclamation from Truman.
A short newspaper story appeared in Veer's hometown paper in Norfolk County, Va., after his death.
"Pvt. Veer M. Krause, grandson of Mrs. Emma Krause, of 727 North Elm Avenue, was killed in action in Korea on September 8," it began.
The Purple Heart was awarded on Jan. 2, 1951. Seven other medals and honors were awarded. For the next 20 years or so, Emma Krause kept the Purple Heart, in all likelihood. She was the grandmother who had raised Krause until he joined the Army in 1949.