Utah's Governor Herbert on the left. is shown with Raette and Dave Belcher, the benefactors of the second in the line of large sculptures permanently placed in the Project 911UP series. This sculpture titled
the 'Utah Fallen Warrior Memorial' is in honor of all soldiers lost since the Gulf War to the present day.
Dave and Raette Belcher are dedicated citizens of Salt Lake City, having the belief of helping in the betterment of their community. When they became aware of this project, they knew they had to bring one of the pieces to their city. Dave is partners of a company called Mountain Crane also located in Salt Lake and his company decided they could transport their sculpture across the country from Florida to Utah themselves. Their sculpture traveled all over the Unites States and stopped at several venues over a two + week period, to show parts of the country what this sculpture represented.
Raette worked tirelessly raising funds for the Memorial, along with finding the location I agreed to for its home. It was decided and agreed that the place for this sculpture would be on the grounds of the Fort Douglas National Military Museum in Salt Lake, on the grounds of the University of Utah. Bob Voyles, the director of the museum, showed me about an acre of grass on their grounds and said it would be great to be there. Raette and Dave immediately started working on all local people in the community to bring their resources, supplies and talent to volunteer to build a small park like setting. Once completed, it has become a place of gathering for the Gold Star Families to have an annual meal there, by the sculpture. There is a lovely white Gazebo, to rest out of the sun, benches all around, brick paved walkways and they even brought over the base from one of the 2002 Olympic flags in Salt Lake, that serves as the official flag for the memorial.
Governor Herbert was on hand to speak to a large public dedication ceremony. The day before, there was a special private ceremony with just the Gold Star families from Utah. Several came up to the podium and spoke about their loved ones passed. Some spoke of their loved ones, others recited a poem they wrote and a song was sung by another. It was Kay and I's first time to have the chance to get to speak to some of them and hear their stories and how they are coping.
The last time I was in Salt Lake City, I was there to seal the concrete with a special liquid, that needs to be done once a year and to show the assistant curator how it is done. As I was there, a woman heard me talking about being the artist for this piece. She came over to me and shook my hand. She said she and her husband bring their 22 year old retired soldier there once a month. She told me her son was wounded badly in the service and that he was in a wheel chair. When he found out about the Memorial, he asked them if they could drive there once a month so he could pay his respects. She told me they lived 400 miles away, but it was so important for him to come that they had been doing this for over a year for it made him happy to be there.
I can tell you that the look in her eyes and the genuine way she thanked me, made me well up with emotions I have not ever felt before. I did not get to meet him for I was on my way out to the airport by the time I saw her. I asked her to give him my best and tell him thank you for believing in this memorial and that I was glad it was giving him peace.
Kay and I are most proud of this sculpture and what it represents. For us to of been able to bring this piece of the Slurry Wall, now a Memorial Sculpture to be honored and dedicated to lost soldiers is just another part of why this project is so important.