Governor Pat Quinn today honored the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and servicemembers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by proclaiming Sept. 11, 2013 as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. The Governor also unveiled the "Portrait of a Soldier" memorial exhibit at Columbia College Chicago. The exhibit features a series of hand-drawn portraits of nearly all of the 306 Illinois men and women who died in the 9/11 terrorist attack, Iraq, Afghanistan or in combat service to our country since Sept. 11, 2001. The exhibit is part of Governor Quinn's long-standing commitment to honor Illinois' men and women in uniform.
"On the eve of the anniversary of one of America's darkest days, let us remember the brave servicemembers who have given their lives to protect our nation's freedom," Governor Quinn said. "We should never forget the individuals and first responders who lost their purposeful lives on September 11, 2001, and the military heroes who have since made the ultimate sacrifice overseas. We will honor them always."
In a joint resolution in December 2001, the U.S. Congress designated September 11 of each year as Patriot Day and on April 21, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which includes language to officially establish September 11 as an annually recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance.
"The "Portrait of a Solider' exhibit is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made in the name of our state and country," Governor Quinn said. "These sketches are a moving tribute to those Illinois citizens who gave their last full measure of devotion to protecting our freedoms."
Governor Quinn founded the "Portrait of a Soldier" memorial exhibit to honor fallen servicemembers in 2004 after artist Cameron Schilling of Mattoon drew the first portrait of Army Spc. Charles Neeley, of Mattoon, who was killed in Iraq. Schilling then committed to drawing a portrait of every Illinois servicemember who has fallen during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The "Portrait of a Soldier" memorial exhibit will be on display at Columbia College Chicago until tomorrow afternoon. The exhibit's next stop will be at Lincoln Log Cabin in Lerna from Monday, Sept. 16, until Saturday, Oct., 5, 2013.
Governor Quinn has made our veterans, servicemembers and their families one of his top priorities throughout his career in public service. He has led programs including the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program and the Veterans Cash lottery ticket, which has awarded more than $10 million to not-for-profit organizations across the state that provide health care and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, housing assistance, disability benefits and other services to Illinois Veterans. He also championed numerous veterans' causes during his service as Lieutenant Governor and Illinois Treasurer. In 2011, Governor Quinn launched the Welcome Home Heroes program to support Illinois servicemembers seeking homeownership.
For more information on the "Portrait of a Soldier" exhibit or to view the portraits online, visit OperationHomefront.org.