CHICAGO—Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn today joined with 29 Illinois mothers whose sons or daughters have died while fighting against terrorism to commemorate Gold Star Mothers’ Day. Quinn and Commander of the American Legion of Illinois Arnold Ambros presented the Gold Stars to the mothers, a tradition which dates back to 1918.
“American Gold Star Mothers are those whose sons or daughters served and died so that this world might be a better place to live,” said Quinn. “It is proclaimed a day to honor 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 29 Gold Star Mothers from Illinois whose sons or daughters were killed while on active duty in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom:
· Sandra Miller—Mother of Marine Captain Adam Miller
· Patricia Hoffman—Mother of Sergeant First Class James T. Hoffman
· Vickie Morris—Mother of Private First Class Geoffrey S. Morris
· Dianne Ibbotson—Mother of Corporal Forest J. Jostes
· Georget Frank—Mother of Lance Corporal Phillip E. Frank
· Mary Stoffel—Mother of Lance Corporal Torrey L. Gray
· Elizabeth Edwards—Private First Class Shawn C. Edwards
· Leah Garrison—Mother of Sergeant Landis W. Garrison
· Francia Lopez—Mother of Staff Sergeant Oscar D. Vargas-Medina
· Joy Syverson—Mother of Major Paul R. Syverson III
· Dani Wagener—Mother of Sergeant Christopher A. Wagener
· Sandra Barcus—Mother of Private First Class Collier E. Barcus
· Linda Calhoun—Mother of Private First Class Torry D. Harris
· Valorie Rice—Mother of Corporal Demetrius L. Rice
· Susan Sullivan—Mother of Marine Lance Corporal Vincent M. Sullivan
· Laura Adams—Mother of Marine Sergeant Matthew S. Adams
· Angle Collins—Mother of Lance Corporal Jonathan W. Collins
· Lynn Lenker—Mother of Marine Corporal Christopher Belchik
· Jane Tate—Mother of Army Specialist Charles L. Neeley
· Shelly Lamb—Mother of Army Specialist Charles Lamb
· Marla Uhles—Mother of Marine Lance Corporal Drew M. Uhles
· Joan Neal—Mother of Army Specialist Wesley R. Wells
· Rose Marie Dietz-Slavenas—Mother of First Lieutenant Brian Slavenas
· Chris Slavenas—Stepmother of First Lieutenant Brian Slavenas
· Bette I. Sullivan—Mother of Army Specialist John R. Sullivan
· Nancy Medcalf—Mother of Army Specialist William D. Dusenbery
· Nancy Dunsenbery--Stepmother of Army Specialist William D. Dusenbery
· Susan Tyrrell—Mother of Army Private Scott M. Tyrrell
· Judy Sutter—Mother of Staff Sergeant Michael J. Sutter
Also in memoriam, Quinn’s office launched a statewide initiative resulting in newspapers and television stations across the state airing photos of Illinois’ fallen soldiers to honor their sacrifice on Gold Star Mothers Day.
“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, Frederick E. Sterling (1921-1933), was at Soldier Field for the first-ever dedication of Soldier Field and its monument to veterans.
“Now, 78-years later, I am proud to be here as the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, humbled to be with Illinois’ Gold Star Mothers and honored to be at the new veterans memorial,” said Quinn.
The new Soldier Field war memorial features a restored 6-foot-high copper statue of a World War I 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 Illinois Military Family Relief Fund - drafted by Quinn and unanimously passed by the General Assembly - was signed into law in February 2003, by Governor Rod Blagojevich. The Fund assists the families of Illinois National Guard members and reservists called to active duty with rent, car payments and utility bills. Some 3,000 families have received more than $1.5 million from the Fund already.
“If you want to do something specific and concrete to support our troops, please consider sending a donation to the ‘Illinois Military Family Relief Fund’, P.O. Box 8889, Springfield, IL 62791,” Quinn urged. To find out more ways to help our troops, visit the website, www.OperationHomefront.org
, which has garnered more than 7.7 million hits and is one of the most informative military websites regarding American troops in the country.