Treasury Department -- First Class (1883 - ?) Life Saving Medal

Object Number: 
ca. 1903
Gold; silk
diameter: 1 3/4 in. ( 4.5 cm ) Overall: 5 x 2 1/2 in. ( 12.7 x 6.4 cm )
Gold struck medal with obverse showing three men in a lifeboat rescuing a sailor; legend: "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. / ACT OF CONGRESS JUNE 20, 1874." Reverse shows allegorical figure of Fame writing on monument surmounted by eagle; legend: "IN TESTIMONY OF HEROIC DEEDS IN SAVING LIFE FROM THE PERILS OF THE SEA"; engraved inscription at center of monument: "TO / MICHAEL J. BURKE / FOR / HEROIC CONDUCT / IN / SAVING LIFE / 1899-1903." Red ribbed silk ribbon supporting eagle bale attached at center top.
Gallery Label: 
This medal was presented to Michael J. Burke (1864-1920), a member of a rescue patrol team on the East River, for his heroic efforts in rescuing drowning victims. Ironically, Mr. Burke's two sons drowned in the East River on Labor Day, 1918, when one son had difficulty while swimming and the other son jumped in to save him.
Credit Line: 
Gift of under will of Elizabeth B. Cornell in memory of her father, Michael J. Burke
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group