Today, the Illinois House followed the lead of the Senate and unanimously passed legislation carried by State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield). Senate Bill 1007, inspired by the research of Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman, allows specified military service records to be made public in accordance with federal records so that military veterans may be honored for their service.
“On the eve of Memorial Day, I can think of few better ways to honor the memory of those who have served our country than by ensuring the records of their deeds will be more readily available to their descendants and future generations,” said Butler. “I want to thank John and his staff for helping make this legislation a reality. Through their efforts, three Civil War era Medal of Honor recipients from Tazewell County were recently honored for their gallantry and I look forward to the opportunity to learn about more local heroes when SB 1007 becomes law.”
As Butler referenced, Clerk Ackerman and Deputy Clerk Sharon Sciortino began reviewing the hundreds of military discharge documents held by the county several months ago. Their research found that three Tazewell County natives, including Thomas Murphy, were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions at the siege of Vicksburg during the Civil War. Murphy was recently recognized by the House when Butler’s HR 293 was adopted.
While enough publicly accessible information existed to honor the Tazewell Medal of Honor recipients, current state law prevents discharge papers and other service records from being released to anyone other than the service member, or a son or daughter. This means the history of thousands of now deceased Illinois veterans are not accessible to their descended family or the posterity of history. SB 1007 ensures veterans’ stories will not be lost to history by allowing these records held by county clerks or recorders to be made public in line with federal standards. For privacy, personal information will not be part of the publicly released documents.
Having passed both chambers, SB 1007 now heads to the Governor to be signed into law. State Senator Chuck Weaver carried the bill in the Senate. For more information about the bill, Click Here.