(CBS) — Mayor Emanuel and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth laid a wreath at the eternal flame in Daley Plaza for service personnel who have died in combat.
Congresswoman Duckworth broke down in tears as she remembered those who died alongside her in Iraq.
“We carry your loved ones with us every day. There is not a day when I don’t get up and say a prayer of thanks for my life and for theirs. Nothing that I do is without them,” said Duckworth.
James Frazier received an award for his service to Gold Star families, those who have lost a family member in combat. Normally he reads the names of Illinoisans who have died in combat in the past year.
“I didn’t read a name and I am thanking God I did not have to read a new name this year. We have not had a combat death,” said Frazier.
Mayor Emanuel said the picnics, parades and good times this weekend were all paid for by the sacrifice of generations of American military personnel.
Thousands watched the Memorial Day parade down State Street and many in the crowd have loved ones in the military.
“It’s wonderful. Both my boys served in Iraq it’s nice to see people turn out for this type of event,” said Jon Henslin.
“It’s tough because you miss him,” said Billie Clark. “He’s serving his fourth year so we miss him.”
Many other families are missing loved ones who will never come home.
“I’m without him, I don’t get to be with him and celebrate his birthdays…it’s hard,” said Oralia Torres.
At the O’Hare Oasis on the Illinois Tollway, Governor Pat Quinn unveiled the “Portrait of a Soldier” exhibit.
The exhibit features hand-drawn portraits of nearly all of the 326 Illinois service men and women who have died since Sept. 11, 2001 to protect American freedoms.
“You look into the eyes of the service members, you see their soul and their soul is one of total service,” said Quinn.
The exhibit will remain on display at the O’Hare Oasis until Sunday, June 1 and then it will travel to the Hinsdale Oasis where it will be featured through Sunday, June 8. The exhibit will then move to the Chicago Southland Lincoln, DeKalb, Belvidere and Lake Forest oases through the July 4 weekend.
The portraits on display in the exhibit can be viewed on the Operation Homefront website.