What is the Portrait of a Soldier Exhibit?
“Cameron Schilling in drawing those portraits had a picture from the family and if you look into the eyes of those who are on the portraits of a solider here, you can see their soul, you can see how special they are, ” said former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
On Sunday the Naperville Public Library opened a special limited-time exhibit at its 95th Street location called “Portrait of a Soldier.” It honors more than 300 military service members, 11 of those from Naperville, who lost their lives serving our country. The black and white drawings are created by Mattoon, Illinois artist Cameron Schilling. He started the project in 2004 when he drew a portrait of Army Specialist, Charles Neeley, who passed away in Iraq. Ever since, Schilling has been drawing portraits of every Illinois service member killed in combat since 9/11.
“Cameron Schilling was on my staff, and he asked me if I could put him in touch with other Gold Star Families who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world,” said Quinn.
Naperville City Councilman and U.S. Air Force veteran, Ian Holzhauer was at the exhibit to talk about the impact these fallen soldiers have had.
“Behind every face on this exhibit, there are also many many ripple effects that a family member, fathers, mothers, missing a son or daughter, children now who are grown up without a parent, brothers, and sisters who are missing a loved one and think about the meaning of that sacrifice has for all of us,” stated Ian Holzhauer.
Naperville City Councilman and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Benny White also spoke during the opening, thanking former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn for bringing the exhibit to Naperville.
“This is such a treat, Governor Quinn, thank you so much for getting this here in the city of Naperville, this will definitely bring light to all the great wonderful things these men and women have done on this wall and tell your friends about it, get as many people over here, y’all just need to see this,” said Dr. Benny White.
The opening ceremony ended with a moment of silence to pay respect to all the men and women featured in the drawings. The “Portrait of a Soldier” exhibit will be on display until March 6.
Naperville News 17’s Anthony Yench reports.
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