Kankakee, IL – On September 11th, Kankakee Community College (KCC) will host a poignant tribute to the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
The “Portrait of a Soldier” exhibition will showcase 291 hand-drawn portraits of men and women who lost their lives in service since September 11, 2001. This powerful display of artistry and patriotism will be held at KCC’s Arts & Sciences Building art gallery.
Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will inaugurate the exhibit with an opening reception on September 11th at 5:30 p.m., extending a special invitation to the families of fallen service members as honored guests. The public is warmly welcomed to attend the opening and explore the exhibit throughout its stay.
“The Portrait of a Soldier memorial is a moving tribute to the men and women who have given their last full measure of devotion to our democracy,” Quinn shared. “I encourage everyone to come see the Portrait of a Soldier tribute and honor the memory of these fallen heroes.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the commencement of the Iraq War, a fact not lost on Quinn. Among the portraits is Marine Capt. Ryan Beaupre, a St. Anne native and Bishop McNamara High School graduate. Beaupre was the first serviceperson to be killed in action during the war.
Visitors to the “Portrait of a Soldier” exhibit are invited to contribute by writing letters of gratitude and drawing pictures for deployed troops, veterans, wounded soldiers, and caregivers. These heartfelt expressions will be delivered through Operation Gratitude.
The talented artists behind this touching endeavor are Cameron Schilling of Mattoon and Donal Jeremiah of Streamwood. Schilling embarked on this journey in August 2004, drawing his first portrait after the loss of Army Spc. Charles Neeley, also from Mattoon, in Iraq. What began as a gesture of sympathy evolved into a mission to honor every fallen Illinois service member in the Global War on Terror.
The portraits on display are replicas of the originals, which are cherished by the fallen soldiers’ families. The exhibition travels throughout Illinois, carrying with it the stories of bravery and sacrifice.
To explore the portraits in advance, visit Http://governorquinnportrait.org/portraits.html