On Tuesday, a joint resolution supported by State Representative Brad Stephens (R-Rosemont) was adopted in the Illinois House of Representatives to honor the nation’s last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient. Senate Joint Resolution 29 urges the President of the United States and the United States Congress to take all measures to ensure the last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient be offered a state funeral as well as having the option to lie in state in the rotunda of the United States Capitol when he dies. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel Woodrow Williams of the United States Marine Corps Reserve from West Virginia is America’s last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient.
“One part of my work as state representative that I love doing is honoring our communities’, state’s, and nation’s veterans, especially those who have served our country with courage most of us can only aspire to achieve,” said Rep. Stephens. “This resolution ensures that our country’s last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient receives the honorable rites he deserves as his legacy is written into the history of America. This State funeral we urge as a body will also honor the lives of the 352 other Medal of Honor recipients who served in World War II and were willing to give it all for our nation and freedom across the Earth.”
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government and is presented by the President in the name of Congress. It is conferred on members of the armed forces who have distinguished themselves through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives beyond the call of duty while engaged in certain military operations. Then-Corporal Williams demonstrated this behavior during the Battle for Iwo Jima and was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Truman in October 1945.
According to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, 987,000 Illinoisans served our country during World War II. 22,000 Illinoisans made the ultimate sacrifice during this war.