After purchasing a unique-looking medal at a Florida garage sale for just a dollar, a Wheaton family investigated its origins to discover that it was a hero’s reward for an 18-year-old woman who saved two people from drowning in 1924, the Suburban Life reports.
According to the paper, Edward and Yura Gruenwald gave the medal with steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie’s face on it to grandkids Tommy, Danny, Katie and Kristine Anderson of Wheaton; the kids managed to track down its story, that of 18-year-old Ruth Lysle Justice, who saved two friends from drowning in 1924
“Ruth Lysle Justice saved Helen E. Mason and Edna M. Stevenson from drowning, Venango, Pennsylvania, July 21, 1924,” the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission website reads. “After Miss Mason, 21, and Edna, 14, finally sank, Miss Justice, 18, student, arrived and dived toward them from a boat, which then drifted away. Edna was holding to Miss Mason, and one of them kicked Miss Justice at her stomach.
“Miss Justice groped and finally grasped Miss Mason by the shoulder and took both to the surface. She then swam with great effort 25 feet to wadable water, where she was relieved by others. She began to sink in shallow water from sheer weakness, but two women took her to the bank.”
Such medals, awarded by the Commission, are typically treasured family heirlooms, but so far the Andersons haven’t been able to locate any of Justice’s family, so they’re returning the medal to the Commission, the paper said.
“It would mean a lot to us if the people found out about it and would step forward if there were relatives anywhere,” Tommy Anderson told the paper. “It would be cool for us to be involved in returning this long-lost thing.”