About 20 people gathered at Adam’s Garden recently for a late afternoon work session, when 10-year-old Brendan West bellowed into a handheld microphone, “hello folks.”
Brendan was testing out a new sound system donated to the small grief park tucked into the crescent of land known as Lower Blackburn Park on West Osage.
“He actually said a lot more than that,” said Gina Pingleton, who initiated the memorial park following the loss of her son as a place for families to remember their lost loved ones.
Brendan, who had been promised a role in the work session if he behaved himself, had earned the right to be the speaker.
“I was very good,” he said.
As Brendan talked, his father, Steve West, who had donated electrical work for the park, and other volunteers determined the best location for speakers, leading up to Saturday’s dedication of the new flagpole, donated by Pacific Eagles Aerie 3842.
The dedication was held this past Saturday at 10 a.m.
In addition to testing the sound system, volunteers were there to complete installation of a new lighting system, install statues and spread mulch around plants at the base of the flagpole.
A granite stone displaying the insignia of each branch of service, donated by Bruns Monument Company, sits on one side of the pole — on the left when facing the pole. The stone monument is dedicated to Jeffrey White.
Two statues are on the opposite side of the flagpole. Both contain a rifle pointing downward into the ground, the recognized memorial of a soldier killed in action.
The rifle is capped by a helmet and at the bottom a pair of boots to represent the final march of the last battle.
In a second statue, a soldier is kneeling beside the familiar symbol. The Wishing Well in St. Clair donated the statues.
The size of the work party is an indication of the popularity of the garden, which contains park benches around a statue of a grief angel, and a pathway of bricks inscribed with the names of children who died before their time. Some 106 inscribed bricks have been purchased by family members and set in the pathway.
A second, 300-brick pathway, was laid at the base of the new flagpole. These will be inscribed with the names of servicemen and -women and first responders from the Pacific area who died in the line of duty.
Pingleton said she will place the names of Jeffrey White and Riley Baker in the new pathway.
“Those are the first two servicemen’s names in Adam’s Garden,” she said.
“The remarkable thing about this park is that this is not city money,” City Administrator Harold Selby said. “All this has been done with volunteer labor and private donations.”
For information about purchasing a brick in the garden, people may contact Pingleton at 636-257-5231.
Volunteers also are working on plans to install a waterfall at the northwest corner of the park, noting that the sound of moving water will add an element of tranquility to the park.
Funds for the waterfall have been raised privately, according to Alderman Walter Arnette, a supporter of the park.
U.S. Silica is providing the materials and some labor for the project.