Most of us are familiar with military awards such as the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and commendation medals for valor and distinguished military service. However, there is one honor bestowed upon veterans by the state of Ohio for outstanding leadership and contributions beyond the recipients’ military service—induction into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.
On November 3, 2016, at Lincoln Theatre in Columbus, Thomas R. Burke was one of nineteen Ohio veterans to receive this honor. The annual induction recognizes veterans who have excelled in community service, veterans advocacy, public service, or other significant contributions over their lifetime. Burke, who currently serves on VVA’s National Board of Directors representing Region 5, was selected by a committee of his veteran peers. He joins an elite group of more than four hundred veterans who have been inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame since its inception in 1992.
Buckeye State Council Administrator Don Jones, who nominated Burke for the honor, said, “Tom’s lifelong service and dedication to veterans and veterans issues, including eight years as president of the Buckeye State Council, participation on national committees, and his involvement in many other veterans causes such as the founding of Veterans Courts in Ohio, made him a very deserving candidate.”
“The induction ceremony was overwhelming,” Burke said. “I was humbled by the caliber of people who had been inducted. As I looked over the list, it was amazing that my name was on it. I was proud and humbled. The most incredible moment was when I was standing up there on stage, receiving the plaque, hearing a list of my lifetime accomplishments and experiencing the audience’s reaction. It’s hard to put into words. I’ve never had a moment that impacted me like that.”
Bronze plaques representing each inducted class are permanently on display on the second floor of the Vern Riffe Building in Columbus.
Source: Ken Williamson, The VVA Veteran