HARRISBURG – May 29, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today joined with Gold Star Families for a ceremony at the Harrisburg Library to unveil the Portrait of a Soldier memorial exhibition.
“We must never forget our 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 Barbara Eiland of Fairview Heights, grandmother of Army Specialist Ja’Mel Bryant of Belleville; Stephanie Dostie of Granite City, wife of Army SFC Shawn Dostie of Granite City; Carl and Teresa Pickering of Harrisburg, father and stepmother of Marine LCpl. Aaron Pickering of Marion; Lisa and Sam Short of Marion, mother and stepfather of Marine LCpl. Aaron Pickering of Marion and Robert and Pamela King of Robinson, parents of Army PFC Justin King of Robinson.
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.