CHICAGO (CBS) — As we remember the sacrifices made by many this Memorial Day Weekend, there’s a push to rack your memory about medals.
The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office needs your help reuniting military honors with the people who earned them. CBS 2’s Lauren Victory took us inside the treasure hunt – er, treasurer hunt – on Friday.READ MORE: Weekend Guests At Six Flags Great America Say Crowds, Closed Rides, Huge Fight Involving 20 People Ruined Their Experience
This Memorial Day with the pandemic not over, parades are canceled – or if happening, not as lavish.
But one Memorial Day commitment that’s unchanging is the Treasurer’s hunt. Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, that is.
Every year, his office sends out a statewide media alert to find the owners of unclaimed property with an extra special push to find people who’ve lost their military medals.
“We find almost all of them in safe deposit boxes,” Frerichs said. “These are things that people really value. They might be worried about them being stolen or burned in a fire.”
Sometimes the servicemen or women pass away without telling their families about the safe deposit boxes. In Harold Walker’s case, he moved away from Illinois and his bank was sold.READ MORE: 8 People Shot, 4 Fatally, After Argument At Gathering In Englewood
“We thought they were gone forever,” said his sister at a 2017 medal reunification ceremony covered by CBS 2.
It turns out the army veteran’s Purple Heart and other medals were safely stored under lock and key in a Springfield vault. Frerichs promises to never throw out or sell any service award.
“We shouldn’t be holding onto this. It should be in their possession,” he said. “I take it as my responsibility, one of my highest responsibilities, to return these medals to their rightful owners.”
You can search for lost military decorations along with $3.5 billion dollars in other unclaimed property – mostly lost checks – on the Treasurer’s website. That’s where the 10-year hunt ended for Walker’s family.
“There’s no explaining what the medals mean to me,” said Walker at the 2017 ceremony.
Success stories don’t happen as often as they should. More than 100 military medals and ribbons are still in the state’s care waiting to go home.MORE NEWS: Suburban Mom's Facebook Was Hacked, And She Was Locked Out, Years Of Memories Disappearing
It takes 10 seconds to search the Treasurer’s website. The Treasurer suggests plugging in the names of several relatives in case the safe deposit box with precious belongings was in someone else’s account.