SALUTE, INC. Helps Bring Portrait of a Soldier to Arlington Heights Memorial Library

  • The Portrait of a Soldier exhibit will soon be coming to the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.

    The Portrait of a Soldier exhibit will soon be coming to the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.

 
 
Updated 8/27/2021 9:06 AM

With the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States approaching, SALUTE, INC. has brought together multiple resources for two special commemorative events.

In conjunction with the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, First Presbyterian Church, and other groups and individuals, SALUTE has helped bring to the community a moving collection of portraits of more than 300 U.S. service men and women from Illinois who died in service to their country since 9/11. The display will be available at the library for several weeks with registration required only for the opening day of the exhibit. A second exhibit will be set up at John Hersey High School.

 

The idea for the portraits began when artist Cameron Schilling completed the first portrait after seeing the impact on the community of Mattoon, Illinois, during services for Army SPC Charles Neeley in 2004. From that time forward, Schilling completed more than 290 portraits on behalf of Gold Star families with Donald and Kiana Jeremiah completing another 20. Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was an early proponent of the project, advocating for it to be seen throughout the state, ultimately garnering support from American Airlines and others to formalize the presentation.

Quinn also initiated the Illinois Military Relief Bill, based in part on the experiences of Will and Mary Beth Beiersdorf, and the challenges their family faced during Will's deployment after 9/11. It was from that experience that SALUTE, INC., was born to help military families overcome obstacles to receiving necessary treatment and care by providing short-term financial assistance. SALUTE and Quinn teamed up again to share, remind, and remember the service of Gold Star families in Illinois.

"This very moving tribute to not only the fallen heroes, but their families and their communities is an important step in keeping the memories and the value of their service in our minds," said Mary Beth Beiersdorf, who serves as SALUTE, INC. Executive Director. "We are grateful to the Arlington Heights Memorial Library and First Presbyterian Church for their support."

The day will begin with a Remembrance Ceremony at the First Presbyterian Church at 10:30 a.m. Included in the ceremony will be the reading of stories written by students at Hersey and Saint Viator High Schools based on their interviews with Gold Star families, music by the U.S. Navy Quintet, and comments from U.S. Army veteran and former Pastor of St. James Parish, Rev. Matt Foley.

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"We are so pleased to have high school students involved as they were born after September 11, 2001," said Beiersdorf. "It is through events like Portrait of a Soldier and the Remembrance Ceremony that history is brought alive for the next generation."

To register for the Remembrance Ceremony or the exhibit opening at the library, visit the Program listings at www.ahml.info.

To learn more about SALUTE, INC., visit www.saluteinc.org.