“O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life”
The last Sunday of September each year is designated as National Gold Star Mother’s Day. The day has been commemorated since President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the first Gold Star Mother’s Day in 1936. In a proclamation in 2009, Gov. Pat Quinn designated the last Sunday of September as Gold Star Mother’s Day in Illinois.
The Gold Star symbolizes a family member who died in the line of duty while serving in the United States Armed Forces. More than 300 Illinois servicemembers have been killed in action since September 11, 2001.
Click here for a List Of Those Killed In Action
View the Governor’s Office Press Releases for Gold Star Mothers Day
Portrait of a Soldier is a unique memorial which honors Illinois soldiers who have been killed in the line of duty since September 11, 2001. The memorial is comprised of graphite portraits drawn by artist Cameron Schilling of Mattoon, Illinois. The project began when Schilling drew a portrait of fellow Mattoon resident U.S. Army Spc. Charles Neeley after Neeley lost his life in Iraq.
Schilling, then a student at Eastern Illinois University, committed himself to drawing a portrait of every Illinois servicemember killed in the Global War on Terror. Each portrait is carefully done in Schilling’s evocative style. His efforts caught the eye of then-Lt. Gov. Quinn, who established the Portrait of a Soldier memorial in 2004. Over the next decade, Lieutenant Governor and later Governor Quinn and took the memorial to numerous venues across the state for the people of Illinois to remember -- and never forget -- true American heroes.
To view the entire Portrait of a Soldier memorial, click here.
Gov. Quinn went to grammar school with Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Lester Weber, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1969.
View the Governor’s Office Press Release of Quinn Honoring Memorial Day and Classmate at Grammar School Alma Mater.
In 2006, then-Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn worked with Rep. Brandon Phelps and Sen. A. J. Wilhelmi to win passage of the Let Them Rest in Peace Act which established a zone of privacy around Illinois funerals before, during, and after the funeral. Lt. Gov. Quinn drafted the Let Them Rest in Peace Act after a hate group repeatedly sought to disrupt Illinois military funerals.