Fallen Soldier Memorial

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Illinois soldiers who died making us safer are being remembered this week in Rockford in a very special way.

A portrait of each fallen soldier was sketched by an Eastern Illinois University student, and they're all on display at Memorial Hall.

These are the faces of those who fought to keep our country safe, 132 sets of eyes sketched and their stories on display, all in honor of their service since 9/11.

"This is why we have a democracy this is why we're free because of each and every one of these vets on this wall," said Eric Schuller of Lt. Governor Pat Quinn's office.

Seven Northern Illinois families were the first to see their soldiers' portraits today, including Alan Patten of Byron. Patten's son Andrew was killed by an IED last December in Iraq. He was only 19.

"It's a way for me to remember, it's a way for all that view it will never forget the ultimate sacrifice they paid for their country," Patten said.

The portraits displayed at Memorial Hall are duplicates. The originals will be given to all 132 gold star families next Sunday at Navy Pier in Chicago.

'Portrait of a Soldier' will be open to the public Wednesday from 9 to 8 and Thursday and Friday from 9 to 5. The display will then travel throughout Illinois until Veterans Day.