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Article updated: 5/25/2013 7:39 PM

Quinn unveils traveling memorial exhibition at Des Plaines Oasis

By Barbara Vitello

Gov. Pat Quinn on Saturday unveiled the traveling "Portrait of a Soldier" exhibition commemorating Illinois soldiers killed in combat since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, at its latest destination, the Des Plaines Oasis on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway.

The exhibition consists of hand-drawn portraits of nearly all of the 306 Illinois men and women killed on Sept. 11 and in the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"With 'Portrait of a Soldier' we pay special tribute to our state's brave service members who gave their lives to protect our freedom," Quinn said, according to a prepared statement.

Quinn founded the memorial exhibit in 2004 after Cameron Schilling, an artist from Mattoon, drew a portrait of Army Spc. Charles Neeley, 19, also of Mattoon, who was killed in Iraq on August 25, 2004. Schilling subsequently committed to drawing a portrait of every fallen soldier from Illinois.

The exhibition will travel to oases in Belvidere, DeKalb, Schiller Park, South Holland and Lake Forest through July 7. The portraits are available for viewing online at operationhomefront.org.

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