FREEPORT – September 24, 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 today at the Freeport Public Library.
“Illinois service members have served this country bravely throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” said Governor Quinn. “I am proud today to stand with Illinois’ Gold Star families to 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.
Governor Quinn was joined by Gold Star families including: Steven Bartelt and Jeannie Kyker, parents of Marine Staff Sgt. Justus Bartelt of Polo and Donna Vanderheyden, mother of Army Sgt. Andrew W. Lancaster of Stockton.
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 visit the Freeport Library to view the exhibit where it will be on display through next week and recognize the servicemen and servicewomen who have lost their lives fighting for democracy overseas.