The 21st Show

Reuniting Families with Military Medals; Author Chibundu Onuzo; Best Illinois Books

Connie Barr receives her father's Purple Heart from Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs

Connie Barr receives her father's Purple Heart from Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs Photo courtesy of Connie Barr

On The 21st: Connie Barr shares her story of learning her father received a Purple Heart for his service in World War Two and we hear about Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs' work reuniting families with long lost military medals. Plus, as the state celebrates its bicentennial, there’s a new contest to name Illinois’s greatest book. What are some of the titles in the running? But first, we speak to Nigerian author Chibundu Onuzo about her new book and first U.S. release, "Welcome to Lagos." 

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day. Although everyone thinks of it as the start of summer and barbecues and picnics - the holiday is designed to honor those who have given their lives in military service to this country.

When we think of veterans - and military awards - the Purple Heart comes to mind. It’s the oldest existing award given to American service members, and it’s an honor and a medal cherished by that service member and their families.

But sometimes - those medals get lost! Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs - who is in charge of unclaimed property through the state - is on a mission to reunite families with these lost medals.He joined us in our Urbana studios to talk more about this. 

Also joining us from Peoria is Connie Barr, a resident who was reunited with her father’s purple heart last year.


Lagos, Nigeria is one the biggest and fastest growing cities in Africa, if not the world. Like any big metropolitan city, you meet people from all walks of life trying to make it in their own way.

For Nigerian writer Chibundu Onuzo, Lagos is also the city of “my birth, my dreams, my frustrations, my imagination.”

And it’s the site of her latest novel - called “Welcome to Lagos.” It was released in the UK last year, but it’s only just come out in the US. We spoke with her at our studios at Northwestern University in Evanston.


As Illinois celebrates its 200th birthday, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is asking people to vote on the Best of Illinois in different categories -- from movies to athletes to scenic spots. And starting this weekend, you can vote on what book you think best represents the state.

To talk about these selections, we were joined by Chris Wills from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and John Hallwas, a professor, literary scholar and historian at Western Illinois University.

Story source: WILL