Jesse White Hosts “Preserving Their Memories”
A Celebration of the Illinois Veterans’ History Project
As a special acknowledgement to veterans Secretary of State, State Librarian and Archivist Jesse White hosted “Preserving Their Memories” to honor them for their service as well as their contributions to the Illinois Veterans’ History Project Tuesday September 27 at the Illinois State Library in Springfield. By documenting and preserving the veterans experience the Illinois Veterans’ History Project honors Illinois veterans.
The Secretary of State said, “The Illinois Veterans’ History Project provides a place to honor our veterans, as well as a written memorial for the people who have served our country.” Secretary White continued, “Today, there are nearly 6000 records, submitted by veterans or their loved ones. This initiative, assures future generations will have a better understanding and appreciation of the sacrifices made by Illinois’ service men and women.”
Having served as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, as a member of the Illinois National Guard and a reservist, Secretary White is acquainted with the veteran experience. He spearheaded the Illinois Veterans’ History Project initiative was spearheaded in 2005, in conjunction with the Library of Congress, to provide a permanent record of the names and stories of Illinois veterans and their families.
Secretary White has upgraded the office of Secretary of State from archaic to state-of-the-art, which now functions like a well-oiled machine. So he implemented his offices technical capabilities to enhance the IVHP. “With the use of technology, my office has been able to share over 250 personal history videos online,” said White, whose own video testimony is included in the project. “It is my hope that the contributions of these veterans will live on and their experiences will not be forgotten.”
At the event, veterans were able to obtain an updated driver’s license/ID card with the word “VETERAN” displayed on the front of the card. This designation helps ensure military veterans living in Illinois who have received an Honorable or General under Honorable Conditions discharge receive necessary services and benefits for veterans.
Joining Secretary White were representatives from the Illinois Court Reporters’ Association and Department of Illinois Disabled American Veterans. Prior to the ceremony, volunteer court reporters transcribed accounts from veterans in attendance. The event included musical performances by Glenwood High School’s Titan Fever Show Choir from Chatham and Illinois State Police Buglers. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Lafore Lock Post 755 honor guard presented the colors.
Springfield resident and WWII veteran, Dale Hunter was formally awarded the Republic of France’s Knight of the Legion of Honor Medal by Jean-Christophe Paris, deputy consul general, Consulate General of France in Chicago. In addition, Erica Jefferies, director of the Illinois Veterans Affairs, was honored for her efforts in assisting Illinois veterans.
Author Cyndee Schaffer, daughter of Women’s Army Corps (WACs) enlistee, Mollie Weinstein Schaffer, gave a presentation drawing excerpts from Mollie’s letters written home throughout the war. They are also included in a book that Cyndee Schaffer co-wrote with her mother titled, Mollie’s War: The Letetrs of A World War II WAC in Europe.
One of the highpoints of the day was Illinois Patriot Guard’s Illinois Fallen Heroes Traveling Memorial Wall, and the Portrait of a Soldier Memorial tribute, provided by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs that were on display during the event. Bot Exhibits will remain on display at the State Library through the end of the week. Both are open to the public.
For more information about the Illinois Veterans’ History Project, visit:https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/public/veteransproject.html.