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
||U.S. Army Ssg. Gary R. Harper
||U.S. Marine LCpl. Adam W. Kaiser
||U.S. Army Ssg. Mario J. Bievre
||U.S. Army Ssg. Ryan Haupt
||U.S. Navy PO1 Jennifer A. Valdivia
||U.S. Army Spc. Ashley Sietsema
||U.S. Army Ssg. Maun F. Hardy III
||U.S. Army Ssg. Robert Miller
||U.S. Airforce SrA. Blanca Luna
||U.S. Army Pfc. Willington Rhoads
||U.S. Army Cpl. James Hale
||U.S. Marine Cpl. Anthony Mihalo
||U.S. Army Ssg. Jason Vazquez
||Chicago, Logan Square|
|Jean Harris/Mille Harris-Hickey
||U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Harris
||U.S. Army Pfc. Ja'Mel Bryant
||U.S. Army Sfc. Gary Vasquez
||U.S. Army Sgt. John Penich
|Linda K. Grieco
||U.S. Army Sgt. Kevin Grieco
||U.S. Army Sgt. Simone Robinson
||U.S. Army Sgt. Robert M. Weinger
||Round Lake Beach|
||U.S. Army Spc. Norman L. Cain
||U.S. Army Cpl. Jason G. Pautsch
||U.S. Army Spc. David A. Schaefer Jr.
||U.S. Army Cpl. Casey Hills
||U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Talbert
||U.S. Army Pfc. Leonard J. Gulczynski