On Veterans Day, my Introduction to Landscape Design (HRT 116) class impressed their client, 1st Sgt. Michael Freed of the Illinois Army National Guard, with their designs for a soldier memorial garden to be built in Roberts, Illinois.
When he approached me this summer about the project, Sgt. Freed wanted me to help create the design, having heard about my work with the WTC Memorial Project, St. Jude Children’s Hope Garden, and the Urbana Labyrinth. I accepted but wanted to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with my design students.
So three teams presented on Nov. 11: Fox Trot Platoon, The American Phoenix, and Brody’s Bunch, the latter group named after one of the team members. Sgt. Freed as well as some of the students presenting were nearly moved to tears by this incredible opportunity to recognize and memorialize the first 19 soldiers killed in the line of duty from December 2008 to September 2009.
Sgt. Freed and I found so many great design aspects in each design that I will be incorporating the best of each into one final cohesive design. Early in spring 2016, I will create a final design for the project, and my students and I, as a part of my Landscape Construction and Maintenance (HRT 119) class, will actually build part of the design.
To unveil this soldier tribute, we’re expecting a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the governor and others on Memorial Day 2016. Stay tuned.