CARMI – May 22, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn joined with Gold Star Families for a ceremony at the Carmi Public Library to unveil the Portrait of a Soldier memorial exhibition.
“We must never forget the brave servicemen and servicewomen who have bravely and selflessly given their lives defending our freedom,” said Governor Quinn. “I am honored to be joined today by Gold Star families, and I am humbled by their sacrifice. We remember these sons and daughters – Illinois’ true heroes not just today but every day.”
The memorial exhibition, which has been viewed by thousands of people in more than 50 cities and towns throughout Illinois, is a series of hand-drawn portraits of more than 250 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 Teresa Clark, mother of Marine LCpl. Nicholas B. Kleiboeker of Irvington; Lisa and Sam Short, mother and stepfather of Marine LCpl. Aaron Pickering of Marion; Mitchell Rhoads, father of Army PFC Willington M. Rhoads of Paris; and Clarence and Betty Richards, parents of Army Staff Sergeant Kenneth L. Ridgley of Olney.
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.
As Memorial Day approaches on May 31, Governor Quinn is encouraging Illinois residents to pause and recognize the servicemen and servicewomen who have lost their lives fighting for democracy overseas.