SALEM — Some of the girls in her elementary school were wearing POW bracelets, so Peggy Cornacchio decided she would send away for one of her own.
When it arrived in the mail around 1970, the stainless steel bracelet was inscribed with a name and date.
“LCDR Giles Norrington...5-5-68.”
“It was definitely an unusual name,” she said.
Cornacchio guesses she was 10 or 11 when she started wearing the bracelet as a way of remembering an American prisoner of war in Vietnam.
“At our age, we weren’t trying to make a political statement,” she said. “We were so young we probably didn’t understand what war was all about, but we knew we were wearing it for people who were prisoners. It was our way of honoring them and not forgetting them. That much we understood.”
She wore the bracelet all the time. She was wearing it, in fact, on March 14, 1973, when Norrington was released after almost five years in North Vietnamese prisons. She remembers her parents pointing out his name in a Boston paper among a list of freed U.S. prisoners.
Cornacchio, the former Peggy Byrne, wore the bracelet even after Norrington’s release. She wore it even though it was too big for her wrist. It slipped off so often that she bent the metal to make it fit, bent it so much that one day it snapped in half.
The broken bracelet wound up in the attic of her parents’ Highland Avenue home, forgotten until this past Christmas when a sister handed her a bag salvaged from an attic cleaning a few years ago when their mother moved out of the family homestead.
“Oh, I found this bag in my closet,” her sister said.
At the bottom of the bag was the stainless steel bracelet, still in two pieces.