Out of Tragedy, We Were Formed; Out of Love, We Continue…”
–Legacy of the American Gold Star Mothers
QUINN HONORS THE MOTHERS OF ILLINOIS’ FALLEN SOLDIERS BY PRESENTING OFFICIAL GOLD STARS
14 Illinois Gold Star Mothers will honor the lives of their sons and daughters, killed while fighting against terrorism in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Storm
CHICAGO—Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn joined with Illinois mothers whose sons and daughters have died while fighting against terrorism to commemorate Gold Star Mothers’ Day. Quinn and Commander of the American Legion of Illinois Elvin Carey presented the Gold Stars to the mothers, a tradition which dates back to 1918.
“American Gold Star Mothers are those whose sons and daughters served and died so that this world might be a better place to live,” said Quinn. “It is proclaimed a day to perpetuate the memory of those whose lives were sacrificed and a public expression of the love, sorrow and reverence of the people of the United States for the American Gold Star Mothers.”
Quinn was joined by the 14 Gold Star Mothers from Illinois whose sons and daughters were killed while on active duty in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom:
· Hazel Henry—Mother of Air Force Lieutenant Colonel John Stein
· Danuta Kowalik—Mother of Lance Corporal Jakub Kowalik
· Teresa Clark—Mother of Lance Corporal Nicholas Kleiboeker
· Sheryl Kleiboeker—Stepmother of Lance Corporal Nicholas Kleiboeker
· Vicky Langley—Mother of Private Jonathan L. Gifford
· Debbie Ramsey—Mother of Army Specialist Brandon Ramsey
· Barbara Bush—Mother of Army Private Matthew Bush
· Linda Pahnke—Mother of Army Private Shawn Pahnke
· Connie Sue Bickers—Mother of Army Specialist Cory Hubbell
· Ellen Thomas—Mother of Private First Class Adam Thomas
· Ruby Lacy—Mother of Specialist Rachael Lacy
· Cindy Sisson—Stepmother of Army Private First Class Christopher Sisson
· Nancy Hollinsaid—Mother of Staff Sergeant Lincoln Hollinsaid
· Marie Pokorny—Mother of Army Staff Sergeant Andrew R. Pokorny
“President Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, proclaimed that ‘From these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion,’” said Quinn. “In Illinois, we can take up the cause of our fallen soldiers by honoring these mothers and supporting the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund for the families of Illinois National Guard and reservists who are on active duty and heroically carrying on the fight against terrorism.”
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. is a federally-chartered organization with 150 chapters across the United States whose members channel their time, efforts and gifts to lessening the pain of others. This non-profit, patriotic organization works closely with and is respected by all veterans’ organizations who appreciate that American Gold Star Mothers “stand tall and proud by honoring our children, assisting our veterans, supporting our nation, and healing with each other.”
Although it was founded nationally on June 4, 1928, the beginnings of this organization started in 1918. President Woodrow Wilson approved the suggestion made by the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defenses that in lieu of conventional mourning for the deaths of their loved ones, that American women wear a black band on the left arm with a gilt star on the band for each member of the family who has given his life for the nation. From this act of mourning by wearing a gold star, the term “Gold Star Mother” became an accepted term for mothers whose sons and daughters were killed in service of the United States.
Gold Star Mothers can be seen making a difference all across the United States, including Chicago. In 1925, Grant Park Municipal Stadium was renamed Soldier Field at the urging of Chicago’s Gold Star Mothers as a monument to veterans. The Lieutenant Governor of Illinois in 1926 was at Soldier Field for the first-ever dedication of Soldier Field and its monument to veterans.
“Now, 77-years later, I am proud to be here as the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, humbled to be with Illinois’ Gold Star Mothers and proud to honor the new veterans memorial,” said Quinn.
The new Soldier Field war memorial features a restored 6-foot-high copper statue of a doughboy, benches embedded with war medals unclaimed from bank security boxes, a 280-foot-long veterans wall on the northwest end of the stadium and other items which celebrate the valor and spirit of American war veterans and their families.
Quinn led the successful drive to set up the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund to assist the families of Illinois National Guard member and reservists who face economic hardship when the breadwinner is on active duty.
The law establishes a check-off box on next year’s state income tax forms to enable taxpayers to voluntarily donate directly to the Military Family Relief Fund. The problem, Quinn said, is the funds from the check-off won’t be available for at least year, but the need exists now. So, several companies and civic groups have already donated to the Fund, as have everday people such as the Gurrie Middle School students in LaGrange who raised $1,600 at a bake sale for the Fund.
Quinn has established a website and toll-free hotline to directly assist the families of National Guard members and reservists, and to inform the public of ways to help in what he calls “Operation Home Front”. Call toll-free at 1-866-417-8889 or visit www.OperationHomeFront.org. Donations may be sent to the “Illinois Military Family Relief Fund”, P.O. Box 8889, Springfield, IL 62791.