OTTAWA – Ottawa resident and lifelong Illinoisan, Clifford Parker, was today named the State of Illinois’ September, 2008 “Veteran of the Month” by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich for his outstanding service to this nation, to his local community and to his fellow Veterans.
“All Veterans deserve to be honored for the undivided commitment and selfless service they gave our country. But those Veterans, who continue to be committed to the people of this nation after their military service, deserve special recognition. Clifford Parker is one of those Veterans – he stood forward and answered the call to duty when this country needed him during war, and now he continues to serve his community today,” said Governor Blagojevich.
The Governor’s “Veteran of the Month” award is a distinction that is given monthly to military Veterans who give back to their community and other Veterans. On behalf of the Governor and Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Director L. Tammy Duckworth, IDVA Assistant Director Sergio Estrada presented Parker with the award today at the American Legion Post #33 in Ottawa.
“Clifford Parker continues to go above and beyond, volunteering his time to serve the state of Illinois and his local community. This award is a way for us to say ‘thank you’ to Mr. Parker for all he has done and continues to do for our Veterans, the youth and the residents of Ottawa,” said Director Duckworth.
Parker is a United States Navy Korean War Veteran who served from December 1951 to December 1955. He served for three and a half years aboard the USS Bache.
After returning home from battle and his military service, Parker continued to serve his country in a different uniform. For more than 32 years, Parker served as a volunteer firefighter for the City of Ottawa. He was on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and helped to ensure that the residents of Ottawa remained safe.
Parker has been a devoted member of the American Legion for 48 years. At the American Legion, he has held numerous positions: Post #33 Commander; LaSalle County Commander; Membership Commander; 12th District Commander; 100 Percent Membership Commander; Aide to 2nd Division Commander, Department of Illinois Senior Vice Commander, and Department of Illinois Commander; Historian to 12th District and for 2nd Division. Parker also served on a number of Committees for the American Legion.
Twenty years ago, Parker established the American Legion Post #33 traveling Color Guard. This Color Guard travels to surrounding communities for parades and various events, portraying patriotism and proudly representing the American Legion.
Parker has continued to be involved with the Veteran community, serving those who he fought beside. For the past eight years, Parker has participated in the Gifts to the Yanks Who Gave – a program where volunteers collect and then deliver gifts to Veterans living in the local nursing and retirement homes during Christmas time. He is also a member of the Ottawa Memorial Association where he has served as President, Trustee and other positions. With this Association, Parker helped coordinate two programs each year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day to honor local Veterans. He also placed American flags on local Veterans’ graves as a way to commemorate their sacrifice and honor their memory.
For ten years, Parker served as a Charter Life Member of the Ottawa River Rescue Squad. This Squad was organized to help prevent adults and children from drowning in the river. Parker volunteered many hours with this rescue squad, helping to ensure the safety of members of the community and visitors.
In addition to his commitment to Veterans, Parker is devoted to helping the youth community. He helped establish the Boy Scout Troop #44 and served as Scout Master for 26 years. During this time 14 of the boys earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Parker dedicated his time to help the Boy Scouts with fundraisers, camps and other troop activities.
Parker is a lifelong Illinois resident, living most of his life in LaSalle County. He is married, a proud father and grandfather of three.
The “Veteran of the Month” award highlights the work of community activists who are also military Veterans. Each month, on behalf of Governor Blagojevich, the Department recognizes a different person or group that contributes to the betterment of communities across the state of Illinois. To nominate a “Veteran of the Month,” please visit IDVA’s website at veterans.illinois.gov
or call IDVA at (312) 814-5538 to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.