A very special ceremony at the Thompson Center Plaza started symbolically at 9:11 a.m. Friday.
Governor Pat Quinn Quinn began reading the names of all of the service men and women who have given their lives since the September 11th attacks.
"And today we honor those who have given their last full measure of devotion, Stanley J. Tokolowski," Quinn said.
He was joined by dozens of others reading more than 6600 names out loud in a 10 hour ceremony in the Loop.
"I almost feel like I am in the presence of heroes when I hear their names called I walked in their boots before so I know just exactly what the experience is," Vietnam Veteran Paul Zickus said.
Nearly all of the families in Illinois who have lost a loved one were invited to the ceremony.
The ceremony coincides with the one-year anniversary weekend of the end of the Iraq War.
Organizers Christopher DePhillips and Laurie Ipsen said they just wanted to thank the veterans for their sacrifice.
"We wanted to make that connection and we don't want to wait too long," DePhillips said. "We want to make sure right now that we care about them and we're concerned and we're really excited to have them home and have them back in our community."
"This is an opportunity to raise awareness for this and it should be in the forefront of everyone's minds that we are a country still at war," Ipsen said.
The organizers say they were inspired by the 1986 Vietnam Veteran's welcome home parade that many say came too late.
"Well it was a decade after the end of the war," Zickus said. "Fifteen years after i got back from Vietnam, many of us felt like we were pretty much forgotten."
DePhillips and Ipsen also organized the "Chicago Welcomes Home the Heroes" parade which will pay tribute to the veterans and serve as a welcome home for them.
The parade will step off Saturday at noon at Columbus and Balbo in the Loop.