Friday, Dec. 7, marks the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 2,000 American citizens were killed and another 1,000 were injured that day in 1941. It was the event that led the United States into World War II.
Flags are displayed on homes and flown at half-mast on government buildings to honor those who died; government offices, schools, businesses and other organizations will remain open for business.
Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford is unveiling an updated Operation Reunite Dec. 7 to coincide with Pearl Harbor Day.
Operation Reunite is a program that links veterans and their families with any unclaimed military medals, awards and military artifacts that have been transferred to the treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division. Rutherford launched Operation Reunite in 2011, shortly after taking office.
He recently was able to return two Purple Hearts to a woman in Rockford and a Bronze Star to a veteran in Mt. Vernon.
“I don’t have many better duties as treasurer than to reunite a military medal with a veteran,” Rutherford said in a prepared statement. “It is my goal to return each and every one of the medals and awards that belong to these veterans or their heirs.”
The list of names is printed on the Operation Reunite brochure, which can be found here. Several of the last known addresses are in the western suburbs of Chicago, including Aurora, Naperville, Darien, Berwyn and Oak Park.
“If anyone recognizes a name on the list, please let us know,” Rutherford said. “While we have a city connected to the names of most of the medals, and perhaps even a last known address, enough time has passed that the addresses may no longer be valid. To find a hint about veterans’ new addresses or the whereabouts of veterans’ families would likely allow us to reunite these medals with the rightful owners.”
The email address for the Unclaimed Property Division is info@Icash.Illinois.gov.
The vault located beneath the Illinois State Capitol contains thousands of lost or forgotten valuables and nearly 200 military artifacts, including medals belonging to the men of women who have dutifully served our country. The military awards span more than a century of American conflict, including one medal that dates back to the Spanish American War, circa 1898. Other priceless items include service records, dog tags and commendations from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Often, a veteran or a family member has stored these objects in a bank’s safe deposit box and forgotten about them over time. Banks eventually relinquish stewardship of the contents of these boxes to the treasurer's office. The treasurer then serves as the custodian for these items, storing and protecting them in the state vault under the Capitol until they may be reunited with whom they rightfully belong.
Source: Illinois State Treasurer's Office
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