SPARTA - October 27, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn joined with Gold Star Families for a ceremony at the Sparta VFW to unveil the Portrait of a Soldier memorial exhibition.
“We must remember those who have lost their lives protecting our freedom,” said Governor Quinn. “I am honored to be joined today by Gold Star Families whose sons and daughters have lost their lives in the Global War on Terror; these are Illinois’ true heroes.”
The memorial exhibition, which has been viewed by thousands of people in more than 45 cities and towns throughout Illinois, is a series of hand-drawn portraits of more than 220 Illinois men and women who have died in service to our country since September 11, 2001.
Governor Quinn was joined by members of Gold Star families including Fred and Gay Eisenhauer, parents of Pfc. Wyatt Eisenhauer (Pickneyville); Dan and Marla Uhles, parents of LCpl. Drew Uhles (DuQuoin); Debbie Costello-Rantanen, mother of Cpl. Jeremiah D. Costello (Carlinville); and Cheryl Brandes, mother of Pfc. Matthew Martinek (DeKalb).
Artist Cameron Shilling of Mattoon drew the first portrait in August 2004, after Army Spc. Charles Neeley, also of Mattoon, was killed in Iraq. Schilling gave the sketch to Spc. Neely’s parents to convey his sympathy for their loss. In October 2005, while a student at Eastern Illinois University, Schilling decided to draw a portrait of every Illinois service member who has fallen during the Global War on Terror.
The exhibit will run through Sunday, November 1, 2009.