Monday, February 18, 2013
Hyla Merin's father was killed in World War II shortly before she was born. On Sunday, she finally received the military medals Army 2nd Lt. Hyman Markel earned for his service.
The Associated Press reports the group Purple Hearts Reunited presented Merin with her father's Purple Heart, his Silver Star, and several other military medals. The presentation took place in Merin's Westlake Village home, surrounded by her family and friends.
Merin told the A.P.:
"It just confirms what a great man he was. He gave up his life for our country and our freedom. I'll put it up in my house as a memorial to him and to those who served."
The medals made their way to Merin through a West Hollywood apartment manager, who found the awards in the building's laundry room storage lockers. Merin's mother, Celia, had lived in the building in the 1960s.
The manager then gave the medals to Purple Hearts Reunited.
According to the A.P., Merin didn't know much about her father growing up:
Her mother never spoke about the Army officer who died before Hyla was born. The scraps of information she gathered from other relatives were hazy: 2nd Lt. Hyman Markel was a rabbi's son, brilliant at mathematics, the brave winner of a Purple Heart who died sometime in 1945.
Aside from wedding photos of Markel in uniform, Merin never glimpsed him.
Sadly, Merin's mother didn't live to see the medal presentation. She died on February 1 at the age of 94.