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Delaware’s Memorial Garden in bloom

After 18 months of planning, planting, sweat and tears, the Memorial Garden for the Fallen has taken root at Dover Air Force Base (DAFB). A ribbon cutting ceremony dedicating the garden was held Tuesday, which is exclusively for use by grieving families.

“We hope this small garden provides solace, beauty and hope,” said Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs President Alice Witterholt, who came up with the idea for the project.

Witterholt’s vision was to create a carefully landscaped garden that would be comforting, soothing, private and most importantly healing.

The garden is attached to the Center for Families of the Fallen. Dedicated in January 2010, the center was created to provide a homelike gathering place where families can wait for the return of their loved one’s remains.

Garden club member Diane Preiser attended Tuesday’s dedication holding an American flag in her hand. Attached to the flag was a ribbon with the name “CPT. Glen Adams,” written on it. Preiser said she came to DAFB with her son-in-law back in 1988. He witnessed the dignified transfer of Capt. Adams, his best friend, a helicopter pilot with the Army. Preiser said on that day, she remembers waiting in a cold, dark room, sitting in a cold metal chair. She hopes the center and the garden will provide an ounce of comfort to those families struggling to get through their worst days.

The Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs says the Memorial Garden is the largest undertaking in the organization’s history.

The project’s fundraising goal started at $125-thousand. As donations poured in from across the country, the federation raised $280-thousand. All of the extra money, Witterholt says, will go towards maintaining the garden.

Witterholt just finished up her two-year term as President. Now Regina Brown takes the helm, with some pretty big shoes to fill.

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