MOUNT VERNON, IL (06/20/2011)(readMedia)-- The Illinois Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) unveiled a statue June 18 honoring female veterans in Mount Vernon. The statue, which shares the likeness of Illinois Army National Guard Soldier Maj. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, was sculpted by Don Morris, a native of Flora. The statue depicts Duckworth standing adjacent to Revolutionary War hero Margaret Ludwig Hays, better known as Molly Pitcher.
"I am proud that America now finally realizes that her daughters are just as capable of fighting for liberty and freedom as her sons," said Duckworth.
In 2004, while co-piloting a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, Duckworth's aircraft was hit by a rocket propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents. The explosion resulted in the loss of both her legs and extensive damage to her right arm. In 2006, the governor appointed her director of Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs, and in 2009 President Obama appointed her to serve as the Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in Washington, D.C.
Many people were on hand for the ceremony, including Congressman John Shimkus of the 19th Congressional District, numerous spectators, and a large contingent from the DAR, of which Duckworth is a member.
"I appreciate the fact that the state of Illinois (has) recognized women's service to the military," said Army Lt. Col. Natalie Northern, commander of the 633rd Theatre Gateway Personnel Accountability Team and a Springfield resident. Northern was deployed to Iraq the same time as Duckworth.
The ceremony was preceded by a parade that led to the Brehm Memorial Library, the site chosen by the DAR to house the veterans' memorial.
The memorial stands as a reminder of both the challenges faced and the strides women have made in the military.
"Women are rarely recognized, and as a woman, it's nice to be recognized," said Hallie Scott of Woodlawn. "It's nice that something big like this happens, (and) a big crowd from all over Illinois came here for people who are fighting for our country."
Duckworth said teamwork unites the country and makes the U.S. stronger.
During the ceremony Duckworth declared, "We are stronger as a nation when all of us participate, when it's not just men or women, or blacks or whites, when all of us participate together."
Photo 1: Photo by Spc. Brian Vorce, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ Illinois Army National Guard Maj. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates speaks at the statue unveiling June 18 in Mount Vernon. A statue sharing her likeness was uncovered at the ceremony.
Photo 2: Photo by Sgt. Charlie Helmholt, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ From left, Richard Groharing, the commander of the Illinois American Legion; Illinois Daughters of the American Revolution State Regent Luanne Frosch Bruckner; Maj. Tammy Duckworth; Mount Vernon Mayor Mary Jane Chesley; Statue Sculptor Don Morris; Statue Architect Brian Edmison all stand before the new statue in Mount Vernon. The statue was unveiled June 18 and honors women veterans.
Photo 3: Photo by Sgt. Charlie Helmholt, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ Maj. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates is presented with a miniature replica of the Women Veterans Sculpture by Illinois Daughters of the American Revolution State Regent Luanne Frosch Bruckner and statue sculptor Don Morris. A statue bearing her likeness was unveiled in Mount Vernon June 18. The statue honors all women veterans for their sacrifice.
Story by Sgt. Charlie Helmholt and Spc. Brian Vorce. 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
For high resolution photos, please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
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