"This memorial is one small way we can
show the families of our fallen soldiers that we remember the
ultimate sacrifice they made while protecting our freedom and our
way of life," said Gov. Blagojevich. "We honor these heroic men and
women for their bravery in our war against terrorism."
Since Sept. 11, 2001, 52
Illinois active duty, National Guard and Reserve service
members have given their lives in the Global War on Terrorism.
Families of those Illinois service members who died in support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom attended the
somber ceremony, which began with the posting of the colors by the
Headquarters United States Military Entrance Processing Command
Joint Service Color Guard from North Chicago. Each branch of service
was represented by distinguished guests, including Capt. David
Allen, Cmdr. David Fish, Brig. Gen. Hal Keistler, Lt. Col. Steven
Melbourne and Brig. Gen. Andrew Davis.
"The 52 Illinois men and women we honor
today came from diverse backgrounds and all corners of our state but
were bound together by an unselfish sense of duty," said Lt. Gov.
Quinn. "In January, I toured the front lines in Iraq, spent New
Year's Eve with our troops in Qatar and dined with troops in a
Kuwaiti mess hall. I was impressed and humbled by the dedication
they displayed to building democracy in inhospitable conditions.
This zeal for freedom is at the core of our character, and today we
pay solemn tribute to those who gave their ‘last full measure of
devotion' so that freedom-loving people everywhere may flourish."
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The memorial, a bronze plaque unveiled
by Gov. Blagojevich, Lt. Gov. Quinn, Brig. Gen. Randal Thomas and
representatives from the five military branches, includes the name
of each soldier, sailor, airman, marine and coast guardsman from
Illinois killed in the Global War on Terrorism.
The Illinois Emergency Management
Agency, Illinois Terrorism Task Force, in coordination with the
Illinois National Guard, spearheaded the memorial. The plaque was
designed by 2nd Lt. Jason Celletti of the Illinois Army National
Guard, an up-and-coming local artist.
As part of the dedication ceremony, the
name of each fallen service member was read.
"Today, we pay tribute to these
soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen who join a
distinguished list of service members throughout our long history
who have died defending the principles of liberty and freedom upon
which our nation was founded," said Gen. Thomas, adjutant general of
the Illinois National Guard. "The loss of these brave men and women,
along with the more than 900 other U.S. casualties in the Global War
on Terrorism, serve as a reminder that we remain a nation at war."
will remain on display at the Senior Center on the fairgrounds
through Aug. 22. Starting Aug. 23, the memorial will be temporarily
displayed at the state Capitol rotunda. While the Global War on
Terrorism continues, the memorial will be on permanent display at
the Illinois State Military Museum, located at Camp Lincoln in
[News release from the