CHICAGO – July 2, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today joined Gold Star Families to unveil the Portrait of a Soldier memorial exhibition at a ceremony held in the James R. Thompson Center.
“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 more than 20 members of the Illinois National Guard and Gold Star families, including: Sandra Miller, mother of Army PVT DeWayne White of Country Club Hills; Bill and Debbie Wolfe, parents of Marine CPL Anthony Mihalo of Naperville; Kathy Alcozer, mother of Army PVT Christopher Alcozer of Villa Park; and Elie and Sylvia Bitton, parents of Army CPL Albert Bitton of Chicago.
Artist Cameron Shilling of Mattoon drew the first portrait of a soldier 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.
As the country celebrates its independence on July 4, Governor Quinn is encouraging Illinois residents to pause and recognize the servicemen and servicewomen who have lost their lives fighting for democracy overseas. The exhibit will be open to the public in the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago on July 2, and again from July 5 - 8 during regular business hours.