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    Ben Justesen

    <span style=”font-family: sans-serif; font-size: 12px;”>
    Can anyone provide me with information regarding this medal, discovered among belongings of a long-deceased great aunt? From the stripes in the tiny ribbon, it appears to be some type of Belgian award for merit; it roughly resembles a Croix de guerre in design, but I have been unable to find anything quite like it on any website or in any reference book at the library. Perhaps the tiny ribbon is a replacement for the larger ribbon originally attached? The only words on it are “au merite”–but it is not of French origin, as far as I can tell.

    The World War I Museum in Kansas could not identify it; the Belgian National Army Museum and Belgian Embassy in D.C. have failed to respond.  The folks at the Institute of Heraldry referred me to OMSA.

    If it is, in fact, a military award, is there any way to learn when it might have been awarded? Or is it a civilian award?

    I have no idea of its origin. I speculate it may have belonged to my grandfather, who died in 1929–my great aunt was his sister–and who served in France with the AEF at the end of WWI. But to my knowledge he served only in France, as a sergeant in a machine gun battalion of the 81st Division, 161st brigade, 322nd infantry regiment, which did remain in Europe until May 1919. I know that parts of the AEF did assist after the Armistice in the liberation of Belgium; perhaps he was among those who participated.  Unlikely, but possible.
    If it is not from World War I, could it possibly be from World War II? It may always turn out to be a memento with no connection at all to my family. But I am a professional historian (political history) and eternally curious.</span>

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    jb floyd

    This design is commonly used by schools as rewards for merit. The design echoes the French Palmes Academiques, but it is not associated with that decoration. Over the years, I’ve found several in “bring-back” troves of veterans who served in France and Belgium.  They’re not government awards, but were available commercially.

    Ben Justesen

    Many thanks–small mystery solved!  Still a nice-looking medal… ‘tho exactly who brought it to Aunt Bessie is still a bit of a puzzle…Best, Ben J.

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