ROCKFORD – November 8, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn joined with Gold Star Families for a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Hall for the unveiling of the Portrait of a Soldier memorial exhibition.
“Today, as we remember those who lost their lives it is fitting that we honor our service members and their families,” 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 and 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 Sept.11, 2001.
Governor Quinn was joined by members of Gold Star families including: James Frazier, father of SSG Jacob Frazier (St. Charles); Olivia Segura, mother of SPC Ashley Sietsema (River Grove/DeKalb); Brigette Cain, wife of SPC Norman Cain (Mt. Morris); and Judy and Craig Belk, parents of SGT Blake Evans (Rockford).
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 servicemember who has fallen during the Global War on Terror.
The exhibit is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 7 through Sunday, November 8.