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Remembering Pearl Harbor: A 'Date Which Will Live in Infamy'

Today, Friday, Dec. 7, is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in St. Charles, and the Illinois state treasurer is using the anniversary to get out the word about Operation Reunite, to return lost military medals to their rightful owners.

Earlier this week, the St. Charles City Council proclaimed Friday, Dec. 7, as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in honor of the more than 2,000 Americans killed and 1,000 more injured 71 years ago when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

A day later, while asking Congress to declare war on Japan, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would tell the American people that Dec. 7, 1941, is “a date which will live in infamy.”

The City Council proclamation urges residents “to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, and to pledge eternal vigilance and strong resolve to defend this nation and its allies from all future aggression.”

So the city joins in this national day of remembrance, when across the United States, flags are displayed on homes and flown at half-staff on government buildings to honor those who died.

Government offices, schools, businesses and other organizations will remain open for business.

Operation Reunite

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford is unveiling an updated Operation Reunite on 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, according to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office.

“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.”

Rutherford’s office, on the ICASH website’s page describing Operation Reunite, lists names of veterans who have property that is being held by the state. Several of the last known addresses are in Chicago’s western suburbs, including Aurora, Naperville and Huntley.

“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.

According to the Operation Reunite web page, s vault beneath the Illinois State Capitol contains thousands of lost or forgotten valuables and nearly 200 military artifacts, which include medals belonging to the men of women who have served the nation. The military awards span more than a century of American conflict, including one medal the Operation Reunite page states dates to the Spanish American War, circa 1898. Other items include service records, dog tags and commendations from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

According to the Operation Reunite page, often these objects were stored in a safe deposit box by a veteran or family member and over time were forgotten. Banks eventually must turn over stewardship of the contents of these boxes to the treasurer's office, which then serves as the custodian for these items until they can be returned to their rightful owners.

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