Monday, Aug. 16


Memorial honors Illinois heroes lost in Global War on Terrorism     Send a link to a friend

Governor dedicates memorial on Illinois State Fairgrounds

[AUG. 16, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich paid tribute Sunday to the more than 50 Illinois service members who made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. During a ceremony on Veterans' Day at the Illinois State Fair, the governor unveiled a memorial honoring our fallen heroes.

"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."

The memorial 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 Springfield.

[News release from the governor's office]

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