CHICAGO – September 11, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today joined Gold Star families to honor the sacrifices that Illinois servicemembers have made in the global war against terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001. Governor Quinn unveiled the Portrait of a Soldier Memorial exhibit this morning at Navy Pier in Chicago and will open the memorial at several other locations throughout Illinois today, including Peoria, Granite City and Champaign.
“As we observe the anniversary of one of America’s darkest days, we must remember those who have given their lives to protect our country and the debt we owe them that can never be repaid,” said Governor Quinn. “I am proud today to stand with some of Illinois’ true heroes – our Gold Star families – as we honor the sacrifice they and their loved ones have made.”
The Portrait of a Soldier Memorial exhibit, which has been viewed by thousands of people 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 Sept. 11, 2001.
Starting today, the exhibit will be on display at Chicago’s Navy Pier, the Peoria Public Library’s Lakeview Branch, the Six Mile Regional Library District’s Main Library in Granite City, and inside Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The exhibits will be on display at these locations until Sept. 16.
Artist Cameron Schilling 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 presented the portrait to Spc. Neely’s parents to convey his sympathy for their loss. In Oct. 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.
Governor Quinn is encouraging Illinois residents to pause today and recognize the servicemen and servicewomen who have lost their lives fighting for democracy overseas.