Sunday, May 20, 2018

Memorial Day: Remembering the Unsung Heroes

Last Chance! If you haven't already been to the Illinois State Museum's Unsung Heroes Exhibit yet, it will be available until June 10, 2018, located at 502 South Spring Street, Springfield IL. With Memorial Day upon us, it is even more of a poignant time to experience this special exhibit. Among the heroes featured is Thomas R. Jones Senior who was an Illinois native and Navy Corpsman. 


Thomas R. Jones, Vietnam Veteran/author/playwright/motivational speaker, led an extraordinary life in public service. Tom Jones ‘Career Legends’ were transposed into a Proclamation from the Illinois Senate and issued by IL Senate President John Cullerton “in recognition of his exemplary career and dedication to Illinois public service and his sacrifice for the civic good of our nation”.

In his later years, Jones was instrumental in being able to get Springfield designated as a Purple Heart city, Sangamon County a Purple Heart County, and Illinois a Purple Heart state. 

Earlier in his career, Thomas Jones was assistant director of  Illinois Department Veteran Affairs in Governor Jim Thompson's cabinet. During that time Jones was an integral part in establishing the Vietnam Memorial here in Springfield, and also played a role in the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.  In D.C. he led his team where they were responsible for the Illinois contingency and were involved in some of the planning. 

Thomas R. Jones Sr. was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, Purple Heart, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Vietnam Services Medal. His book, a historical fiction novel, the Lost Survivor tells the story of a marine corpsman of the Third recon battalion who spent most of his time in Da Nang.  His multimedia stage production Long Way Home was based on his novel.

This exhibit highlights his work as a veteran advocate in the Springfield area, Illinois, and the nation. Currently, photographs and artifacts from his life are still on display as part of the Unsung Heroes Exhibit at the Illinois State Museum through June 10, 2018. Please see the museum's website for more information at

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