Governor Quinn Honors Fallen Heroes on Tenth Anniversary of September 11, 2011

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

On September 11, Governor Pat Quinn 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 DePaul University in Chicago.

“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,” Governor Quinn said. “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 DePaul University’s Loop campus at 333 South State Street through September 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 and the thousands of Illinois troops that have served around the world in the 10 years since September 11, 2011. All state buildings have been directed to fly their flags at half-mast from sunrise to sunset.

In recognition of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Governor Quinn also proclaimed today a day of service and remembrance. A copy of the proclamation is attached.

 WHEREAS, on September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States, leading to the tragic deaths of thousands of innocent Americans and citizens from more than 90 different countries and territories; and,

WHEREAS, in response to the attacks in New York City, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, PA, firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, physicians, nurses, military personnel and other first responders, immediately and without concern for their own well-being, rose to service in a heroic attempt to protect the lives of those still at risk, consequently saving thousands of people; and,

WHEREAS, in the days, weeks and months following the attacks, thousands of people in the United States and other nations spontaneously volunteered to help support the rescue and recovery efforts, braving both physical and emotional hardship; and,

WHEREAS, hundreds of thousands of brave men and women continue to serve every day, having answered the call to duty as members of the United States Armed Forces, with thousands having given their lives, or been injured to defend our nation’s security and prevent future terrorist attacks; and,

WHEREAS, the entire nation witnessed and shared in the tragedy of 9/11, became unified under a remarkable spirit of service and compassion that inspired and helped heal the nation; and,

WHEREAS, in the years immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics documented a marked increase in volunteerism among citizens in the United States; and,

WHEREAS, hundreds of thousands of people from all 50 United States, as well as others who live in 170 different countries, already observe the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks each year by personally engaging in service, good deeds and other charitable acts; and,

WHEREAS, families of 9/11 victims, survivors, first responders, rescue and recovery workers, and volunteers called for Congress to pass legislation to formally authorize the establishment of September 11 as an annually recognized “National Day of Service and Remembrance,” and for the President of the United States to proclaim the day as such; and,

WHEREAS, on March 31, 2009, Congress passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which included for the first time the authorization and federal recognition of September 11 as a “National Day of Service and Remembrance,” a bill signed into law on April 21, 2009, by President Barack Obama; and,

WHEREAS, this year, as we observe the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it is appropriate that we reflect upon the spirit of service which pervaded our nation following 9/11, while recommitting ourselves to service to our fellow Americans so that spirit may live on to honor all of the victims of that day and the heroic efforts of the first responders and military service members who answered the call to serve in the years since; and,

WHEREAS, participation in National Day of Service events by people from all walks of life across the Land of Lincoln embodies the spirit of unity and service that inspired Americans in the days after the September 11, 2001 tragedy; and,

THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2011 as a DAY OF SERVICE AND REMEMBRANCE in Illinois, and order all persons or entities governed by the Illinois Flag Display Act to fly their flags at half-staff from sunrise until sunset on this in honor and remembrance of the victims of the September 11 terror attacks, and further urge all citizens to commit to community service on this day and an ongoing basis.