Oregon - The Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) has announced that the Oregon State Police has become the first law enforcement agency in the United States to embrace spirit of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Never Forget Garden, and plant a garden in memory of the fallen officers who served the public from The Dalles Area Command.
Senior Trooper Gavin McIlvenna is a retired US Army Sergeant Major. During his military career, he served as a Tomb Guard at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Only about 800 men and women have held that prestigious duty in the history of our military. As such, it’s a pretty tight knit community and their fraternal organization is one that Senior Trooper McIlvenna currently serves as the President of.
A project within their organization launched in April called the “Never Forget Garden.” Essentially, the organization was advocating the planting of gardens to memorialize veterans. Sr. Tpr. McIlvenna and Jennifer Albrecht, an administrative specialist in his office (The Dalles Area Command), seized upon this idea as an opportunity to plant a Never Forget Garden outside their office’s front door, honoring the troopers who were killed in the line of duty out of their Area Command.
From Sr. Tpr. McIlvenna, “The Never Forget Garden is a visual way to represent America’s unwavering commitment to our sacred duty to recognize, remember, and honor our veterans and their families now and for many years to come. I t is a simple, yet powerful tool that will help bring unity to our national identity in a unique way that will transcend our political, social, religious or regional differences.” With this concept in mind, he is pushing this idea agency-wide within the Oregon State Police in an effort to memorialize all 33 OSP Troopers who have been killed in the line of duty, not just those who served at his office in the agency’s history.
In early May, The Dalles Area Command Administrative Specialist Jennifer Albrecht reached out to the Troopers assigned to the office regarding the open space by the front door of the office, asking for help in the annual planting of flowers that the public would see when walking by. After viewing the Never Forget Garden project, Ms. Albrecht felt that the office could support this national initiative and plant a Never Forget Garden remembering those who fell in the line of duty from the area command. Ms. Albrecht summed what planting the garden meant to her: "Our Troopers leave their families and put their lives on the line day in and day out to keep us safe. This Never Forget Garden is a small way to say thank you to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the safety of others".
TheTomb of the Unknown Soldier Never Forget Garden is a nationwide invitation to all Americans to plant gardens to express our profound love, sorrow, respect, and gratitude to those who have served and sacrificed on behalf of America and their families. The Society feels that every flower, plant, or tree planted will be a symbol of love and act of unity. In the timeless language of flowers, they will quietly trumpet the message that must never weaken: "We will never, ever, forget or forsake our veterans or the principles that define us as Americans." Any time that we pause to remember our veterans could not be more serious. On that day, in that place, is the time for reflection and remembrance. A day when personal grief and love for country go hand in hand.