SPRINGFIELD – May 29, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today joined with Gold Star Families for a ceremony at the Old State Capitol in Springfield 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 Steven and Jeanie Belchik of Staunton, father and stepmother of Marine CPL Christopher Belchik of Jersey; Barbara Eiland of Fairview Heights, grandmother of Army Specialist Ja’Mel Bryant of Belleville; Douglas and Jill Anne Garbs of Edwardsville, parents of Army PFC Ryan Garbs of Edwardsville; Michael Howdeshell of Springfield, father of Army Sgt. William Howdeshell of Norfolk, Virginia; Robert and Pamela King of Robinson, parents of Army PFC Justin King of Robinson; Margie and David Palmatier of Springfield, Parents of Army CPL Jacob C. Palmatier; Cheryl Price of Woodlawn, mother of Marine LCpl. Jonathan Price of Woodlawn; Susan Tyrrell of Dixon, mother of Army Private Scott Tyrrell of Sterling and Debra Young of Silvis, mother of Naval Petty Officer Jennifer Valdivia of Cambridge.
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.