Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs has set out on a mission to return 11 Purple Heart medals, one of which was found in Oak Park, to their rightful owners.
Each medal was found inside safe deposit boxes in various banks which had been untouched for years, according to the state treasurer. The Purple Heart discovered in Oak Park was inside a bank safe deposit box carrying the name “Smith” and was recorded with the state treasurer’s office over 20 years ago — Nov. 18, 2002. Those with information regarding the Purple Heart found in Oak Park should contact the Frerich’s office.
The Purple Heart is an exceedingly rare military decoration awarded in the name of the president of the United States to those wounded or killed during military service. It is also the country’s oldest military decoration, first created by Gen. George Washington in 1782 and awarded to Continental Army soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War.
“These medals personify honor, sacrifice, and duty,” Frerichs wrote in a news release. “They belong in the loving care of families rather than hidden inside our cold basement vault.”