It's much more than I'd ever dreamed or hoped it would be. I'd hoped for a place of respect, but it's almost turned into a place of reverence. There's a spirit here that I haven't quite felt at other monuments. ... Maybe because it's mine. —Tony Galvez
SANDY — For Tony and Amy Galvez, losing a son in the U.S. Marines Corps to insurgent forces in Iraq is something they think about every day.
"It's not something you get over," Tony Galvez said.
But the family now has a new place to go and remember their soldier.
Sandy City dedicated the "Utah Freedom Memorial" last week, located just south of Sandy City Hall. The memorial was erected to honor men and women of the nation's armed forces and to instill greater appreciation of freedom among youth.
Friday's dedication ceremony was a moment Tony Galvez has been working toward for more than seven years alongside Sandy City.
"It's a Utah monument for not just the fallen — it's not a death monument, it's a living monument," Galvez said. "It's for those who have served in the past, those who are currently serving and those who will serve in the future."
The monument centerpiece features a 15-foot-tall granite pentagonal obelisk, each side highlighting one of the five branches of the military. Interpretational panels also surround the monument, entitled, "Freedom Cherished Gratefully," "Battles Fought Courageously," "Loss Remembered Reverently," "Lives Altered Permenantly," and "Hope Held Faithfully."
A separate pillar features a "Cross & Vault" display intended to remember "the high cost of freedom." Opposite the display is the statue of a woman touching the reflection of the hand of her soldier, honoring "the courageous sacrifice of those who are left behind" during military deployments.
Amy Galvez says the monument is a token of the relationship she still has with her son, Adam, whose death was caused by an improvised explosive device in 2006.
"He wanted so badly to make us proud of him. And, of course, he did," she said. "But now it's our turn. We want to make Adam proud of us and the way we've carried on since his death."
The ceremony was attended by more than 100 community members and active and retired military personnel, including Sandy mayor Tom Dolan; Gary Harter, executive director of the Utah Department of Military and Veterans Affairs; and Major Gen. Jefferson Burton, Adjutant General in the Utah National Guard.
"It turned out far better than any of us expected," Dolan said in an address. "Tony, we said we'd do it. We finally did it."
"I'm very, very grateful for the educational component here," Burton said. "We've got to teach our youth, we've got to teach our children of the cost and what it takes to promote and encourage freedom."
The monument now joins the city's Utah Healing Field and adjacent 9/11 monument. And it's a place where the Galvez family hopes thousands will come and reflect on what freedom means to them individually.
"It's much more than I'd ever dreamed or hoped it would be. I'd hoped for a place of respect, but it's almost turned into a place of reverence," Tony Galvez said. "There's a spirit here that I haven't quite felt at other monuments. ... Maybe because it's mine."