Shannon Philpott

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching

Family Works to Remember Fallen Edwardsville Soldiers

Published in the 11/8/10 issue of the Suburban Journals

Family Works to Remember Fallen Edwardsville Soldiers
Monument Planned at City Park

Doug and Jill Garbs remember their son as a “behind-the-scenes” type who aspired to serve his country as an army ranger. Spc. Ryan Garbs spent two years on secret operations as a U.S. Army Ranger before he was killed Feb. 18, 2007, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan.

Ryan Garbs’ story is similar to those of at least 74 other soldiers from the Edwardsville area. One fought in hand-to-hand combat during World War II, another was killed in a plane crash in North Carolina and two Hamel brothers were killed on the same day.
The stories of these soldiers prompted the Garbs to campaign for a memorial at Edwardsville City Park to honor locals who died in combat.

The Gold Star Monument plaza, approved by the Edwardsville City Council, will feature a bronze bust of a soldier modeled after Ryan Garbs and two gray granite wings. Plans to add flagpoles and lighting are also in the works.

“When Ryan got killed, so many people came to our aid. People die every day, but not everyone gets the support we did and I felt for them,” Doug Garbs said. “We decided we needed to give back and that it couldn’t be just about us or Ryan – it needed to be much more, something bigger.”

After locating several monuments from the 18th and 19th century, Garbs found that a memorial for modern warfare soldiers did not exist in the Edwardsville area. After soliciting the help of Edwardsville Mayor Gary Niebur and the city Parks and Recreation Department, the project to build a monument honoring the 74 Edwardsville natives gained momentum.

By Nov. 1, more than $28,000 had been donated – more than half of the $50,000 needed to complete the project.

“So many nice, knowledgeable people have stepped up to help us,” Doug Garbs said. “I never envisioned a plaza – just a stone monument. It has just taken off and grown into something more.”

Local businesses and organizations have joined the fundraising efforts. Community members organized turkey shoots, the Bank of Edwardsville has launched a Gold Star Banner donation campaign and the Greater Edwardsville Area Community Foundation has managed all tax-deductible contributions.

The bronze statue, on display at the Bank of Edwardsville, features a pocket tab that reads “Our son” to represent all 74 soldiers and their families. A listing for each soldier will include the full name, date of birth and death, branch of service and rank.

“When people look at the monument, they will look at the pocket and see not just our son, but their sons,” Garbs said.


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– Shannon Philpott

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November 9, 2010 - Posted by | News Stories, Newspaper Writing, Sample Work | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Wow! Pretty powerful thoughts Shan.

    Comment by Anonymous | December 23, 2010 | Reply


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