EAGLE, Idaho — A special ceremony was coordinated by the Idaho National Guard on the top of the hill at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery where a new statue was unveiled on the Saturday before Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is a day to honor the men and women who have paid the ultimate price and lost their lives fighting for the freedom of the United States.
Marisa McCarter served in the Idaho National Guard and she lost her best friend Carrie French to a roadside bomb when they were deployed in Iraq on June 5, 2005.
McCarter was there when a new statue with a male soldier kneeling and a female soldier standing next to him with her hand on his shoulder was displayed to the public.
"It's gorgeous and Benjamin Victor did a phenomenal job I think it absolutely encompasses what he was trying to portray, which is I got your back," said McCarter. "It’s always hard on Memorial Day to figure out if I'm sad, happy or thankful, I’ve figured out it is ok to be all those things."
Local sculptor Ben Victor created the statue and even though he works on pieces of art that are showcased all over the world, he has a special place in his heart for veterans.
"Their patriotism will never be forgotten," said Victor to the crowd at the ceremony. "I see all of you here and we will never forget you."
The vision that put the gears in motion for this statue to become a reality started with former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne, he made the first donation and came up with the plans, but for this project to happen he needed help and several Idahoans delivered.
“John Colgrove of Albertsons stood up and said this has to happen," said Kempthorne. "This absolutely has to happen what do you need? I candidly told him and he said you got it, there were goosebumps on everybody at that dinner."
Gerhard Borbonus donated the rock the statue sits upon and Nick Guho, who designed the Idaho State Veteran's Cemetery moved the rock and the statue to its final resting place.
The ceremony also featured a U-60 Black Hawk flyover that held special meaning for the Idaho National Guard who lost three pilots in a crash earlier this spring.
"They gave their life flying a complicated mission in complicated terrain in difficult weather," said Brigadier General Tim Donnellan of the Idaho National Guard. "They gave their lives leaning forward and dedicating themselves to not just the current conflict of today, but to prepare for the next one."
Chief Warrant Officers Matthew Peltzer, Jesse Anderson and Geoff Laubhan were killed on February 2, but this week the Tunnel to Towers Foundation paid off the mortgages of twenty military families including the three Idaho National Guard pilot's families.
The new statue will help us remember and for years to come, we can memorialize these pilots, Carrie French and every other military service member who gave their lives for our country.
"It was an amazing day, it feels like I’m a part of history right now because this is going to be here for a long time," said McCarter.