First Illinois Veteran of the Year Named at State Fair

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SPRINGFIELD – Governor Bruce Rauner and Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica L. Jeffries presented honors for the first Illinois Veteran of the Year at the Illinois State Fair’s Veterans Day on Sunday, August 16.

This new honor highlights and honors Illinois veterans whose contributions in service to the veteran community and their local communities are “truly above and beyond.”

The award went to Richard E. “Hap” Northern, who has been enlisted in the Illinois National Guard since June 23, 1948. Northern has held every rank from Private to Sergeant Major. He has served in the Korean War (1952 – 53) and served as Illinois State Director.

The award recipient also served at the civilian level, along with his military career. He served at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy as the Administrator for 21 years, as well as the Chief of Security after seven years. He also solely owned and operated Northern Realty for 52 years.

Governor Rauner said Northern represents “all that is good and right with our Illinois Veterans.”

“He has served – in war and peace, in leadership roles and as a consummate follower and supporter. He’s given so much of himself to his community, the state and his fellow veterans – we are grateful,” Rauner said.

Northern has received numerous awards and participated in several organizations. He is a life member of the American Legion, American Veterans, Elks and many others. Some of his awards include: the Illinois Distinguished Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

Director Erica Jeffries said, “[Hap’s] been a soldier, a leader, a public servant and focused on helping people.  He’s amazing.”

Governor Rauner and Director Jeffries presented Northern a framed proclamation naming him “Illinois Veteran of the Year” and an Illinois State flag.

The Illinois State Fair will continue to offer discounted ride passes and free admission to veterans and their families throughout the day on August 16. For information on additional special days and activities offered by the Illinois State Fair, visit the link here.

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