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[AUG. 18, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs commemorated "Veterans' Day" at the state fair on Sunday with a full day of activities. Veterans and their families were admitted into the fair for free, ate lunch provided by the Combined Veterans' Association and attended a ceremony honoring Illinois' fallen heroes of the Global War on Terrorism.

During the ceremony at the Multi-Purpose Arena, state officials unveiled a memorial dedicated to the 52 brave Illinois men and women who lost their lives in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Participating were Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Roy L. Dolgos, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and Brig. Gen. Randal E. Thomas, adjutant general of the state of Illinois.

"We all are grateful for the ultimate sacrifice that these 52 service men and women made for the United States of America and pay tribute to them today. I also want to extend my deepest condolences to their families that are here today," Dolgos said. "To us here in Illinois and across the country, they are heroes."

The cast bronze plaque will be displayed in the Illinois Building's Senior Center near the main gate of the fairgrounds until Aug. 23, when it will be placed in the state Capitol rotunda. The plaque will move to its permanent home at the Illinois State Military Museum at Camp Lincoln in mid-September.

"It is important that America understands the contributions these brave souls have made and why we salute them today," said Rochelle Crump, assistant director of the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

The department also hosted a competition for drill teams and color guards from across the state. The winners are listed below:

  • Senior drill team -- Eagles Elite, Edwardsville
  • Senior color guard -- Eagles Elite, Edwardsville
  • Junior drill team -- Tiger Elite, Barry
  • Junior color guard -- Mattoon High School, Mattoon
  • JROTC drill team -- Peoria High School, Peoria

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The day ended with a parade around the fairgrounds, again honoring those who lost their lives in the Global War on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as veterans of all other wars. Participating in the parade were the 451st U.S. Army Band, returning troops from the 233rd Company, ex-POWs, Korean War Veterans and Chicago Veterans from the historic WW II Montford Point Marines and Triple Nickel, members from the Filipino American Veterans of Illinois, American Legion China Town, George L. Giles and Milton Olive Posts, Women's Army Corps, the Veterans Strike Force-1, and representatives from DVA, VFW, American Legion, AMVETS, Women Overseas Service League and the Sangamon Valley Waves.

Also attending the activities and paying tribute were Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka; state Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield; and Reps. Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg; Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora; Mary Flowers, D-Chicago; Raymond Poe, R-Springfield; and Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville.

[Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs
news release]

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