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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2009

Governor Quinn Honors Families of Fallen Illinois Heroes at Gold Star Mothers Ceremony
27 Mothers Presented with Gold Star Banners; More Than 80 Families Attend

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CHICAGO – September 27, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn today presented Gold Star Banners to 27 Illinois mothers whose sons and daughters died in combat while serving their country in the Global War on Terror. More than 80 members of Illinois Gold Star families who lost family members on active duty since September 11, 2001 attended the ceremony at the University of Illinois at Chicago Student Center.

The ceremony, which was co-sponsored by USO of Illinois, marked Gold Star Mother’s Day. The day has been commemorated on the last Sunday in September since President Franklin Roosevelt declared the first Gold Star Mother’s Day in 1936. Please see attached list of the 2009 Illinois Gold Star Recipients.

On August 16, Governor Quinn signed legislation to formally designate the fourth Sunday in September as Gold Star Mothers Day in Illinois.

“Gold Star Mother’s Day honors those whose sons or daughters gave the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our democracy,” said Governor Quinn. “It is so important that we give everyone in our state the opportunity to express our reverence and respect for these patriotic families and their loss.”

Presenting Gold Stars to mothers is an American tradition dating back to 1918, at the end of World War I. At that time, President Woodrow Wilson suggested that instead of wearing conventional mourning black from head to toe, families of men and women who had died in service to their country should wear a black armband with a gold star to signify their loss and their pride. Bereaved families also displayed Gold Star banners – gold stars on a white background with a wide red border – in the windows of their homes.

Verizon Wireless also generously sponsored the Illinois 2009 Gold Star Ceremony. Committed to honoring those who lost their lives in service to our country and their families, Verizon was also a sponsor for the 2007 and 2008 Gold Star Mothers ceremonies.

Governor Quinn was joined at the ceremony by Dan Grant, Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs; Anthony Enrietto, Jr., President of the USO of Illinois; and Alice Smith, Gold Star Mothers of Illinois. Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein recited the poem “To Illinois’ Gold Star Mothers.”

2009 Gold Star Recipients

Recipient Son/Daughter Hometown(s)
Linda Morrison U.S. Army Ssg. Gary R. Harper Virden
Christine Kaiser U.S. Marine LCpl. Adam W. Kaiser Naperville
Cheryl Webb U.S. Army Ssg. Mario J. Bievre Glendale Heights
Lynn Forehand U.S. Army Ssg. Ryan Haupt Franklin Park
Debra Young U.S. Navy PO1 Jennifer A. Valdivia Cambridge
Olivia Segura U.S. Army Spc. Ashley Sietsema River Grove/DeKalb
Sylvia Cheehy U.S. Army Ssg. Maun F. Hardy III East Dundee
Maureen Miller U.S. Army Ssg. Robert Miller Wheaton
Gloria Barrios U.S. Airforce SrA. Blanca Luna Chicago
Mitchell Rhoads U.S. Army Pfc. Willington Rhoads Paris
Virgie Fox U.S. Army Cpl. James Hale Naperville
Debbie Wolfe U.S. Marine Cpl. Anthony Mihalo Naperville
Lisa Perez U.S. Army Ssg. Jason Vazquez Chicago, Logan Square
Jean Harris/Mille Harris-Hickey U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Harris Forest Park
Cecelia Eiland U.S. Army Pfc. Ja'Mel Bryant Belleville
Margie Duhasek U.S. Army Sfc. Gary Vasquez Highland
Kathy Penich-Garros U.S. Army Sgt. John Penich Beach Park
Linda K. Grieco U.S. Army Sgt. Kevin Grieco Bartlett
Elanda Robinson U.S. Army Sgt. Simone Robinson Robbins
Susan Weinger U.S. Army Sgt. Robert M. Weinger Round Lake Beach
Lisa Otto U.S. Army Spc. Norman L. Cain Mt. Morris
Teri Johnson U.S. Army Cpl. Jason G. Pautsch Davenport, IA
Rhonda Kemper U.S. Army Spc. David A. Schaefer Jr. Belleville
Tami Hills U.S. Army Cpl. Casey Hills Salem
Amanda Talbert U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Talbert Galesburg
Jackie Gulczynski U.S. Army Pfc. Leonard J. Gulczynski Carol Stream
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