Sketches Honor Fallen Illinois Soldiers

Sketches Honor Fallen Illinois Soldiers
By: Carly O'Keefe

Du Quoin, IL - One Central Illinois artist wants to make sure the faces of fallen soldiers are not forgotten. Cameron Schilling, a 22-year-old college artist of Mattoon, Illinois began drawing portraits of Illinois soldiers killed in the Global War on Terror.

The "Portrait of a Soldier" memorial was unveilled Wednesday at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds.

The faces of each soldier are permanently etched in the minds of the families they left behind. Schilling's sketches aim to put those faces in the minds of all who see them.

"This guy has really captured Kyle's face," said John Hunsell, father of fallen Marine Lance Corporal Jonathan Kyle Price. "It's almost like he's alive and you can reach out and touch him."

His parents Hunsell and Cheryl Price saw Price's portrait for the first time Wednesday. Staring at the black and white rendering of their son, they studied the glint in his eye and his smile.

"What we miss is the smile, so that's what we wanted, was to see his smile," said Cheryl Price.

Army Specialist Brian Romines' mother Melinda Astin cherished the chance to once again look at her son face to face, even if only on paper.

"I just want to kiss him, I want to hug him and I know I can't but the artist has done a fabulous job and I wish I could express my gratitude to him because it's very touching," said Astin.

Family members say seeing their loved ones face immortalized through art helps them cope. It also ensures their son or daughter's memory lives on.

"For me it's healing," said Astin. "You know that they're not forgotten. Its important to know that they're still remembered."

The "Portrait of a Soldier" memorial will be on display at the Du Quoin State Fair Exhibition Hall from Saturday through Labor Day.