MOORESVILLE, NC (WBTV) - This story begins in a jewelry shop in downtown Mooresville. Alan Allman owns Jewelers on Main and also has a heart for doing what's right.
"I had a customer come in with a box of things to sell," Allman said.
Inside that box was something that didn't belong. A Purple Heart. So Alan Allman bought it and put it in a case, hoping one day to find who it belonged to. It didn't take very long to start trying.
"I walked in here, my watch band was broken, and I saw the purple heart in the case," said customer Kerry Murdock.
The man with the broken watch also happens to be a veteran, who knew just how important something like this is.
"I just feel a real responsibility to find the owner of that thing, and he said 'go for it,'" Murdock said. So he took the heart and started working.
Murdock hit the phones and the internet. He tracked a name written on the back of the heart, Melvin G. Markland. A World War II veteran, he was 22 when he enlisted.
We should tell you this story didn't actually start at a jewelry shop, it began on a battle field in France in 1944. And for Private Markland, it ended there too. The Purple Heart he paid for with his life, was shipped to his parents, and somehow ended up in Mooresville... sold for 40 dollars.
Until Murdock helped find where the heart belonged.
Tama O'Mara lives about 40 miles from Mooresville in Advance, NC.
"I was speechless almost, because I knew him real well," O'Mara said. "He lived with us back during World War II."
O'Mara is one of Melvin's few living relatives, his niece. As a little girl, she remembers he was her favorite Uncle and it was the saddest time when he left for war.
"I remember daddy taking him to Salisbury to catch the train to go," O'Mara said.
He was there for four months until the battle that took his life. With no wife and no kids, the Purple Heart has found a new protector with his niece in Davie County. Murdock delivered it to her personally.
"And to think somebody from Mooresville went to the trouble to find the family that it really needed to go to," O'Mara said.
For Kerry Murdock, it wasn't even a choice. Purple Hearts don't belong in a store. It belongs where it will be forever treasured, just as much as the man who gave his life for it.