But with every tear of joy that comes with a soldier’s return comes a tear of heartbreak for those who will never return home.
Returning soldiers will be greeted with a memorial that honors those who have fallen.
The Fallen Soldier memorial is set to be completed by February and will be located in front of the Bernard Franklin National Guard Armory in Calhoun.
“We started kicking around the idea of building a memorial. We hope never to have to add any names to it,” Lt. Abby Hausen told the Calhoun Times last month.
Staff members of the 108th quickly formed a committee to draw up ideas for the monument, with the help of Fox and Brindle Construction in Calhoun.
“Whether we knew them personally or only casually, they are our brothers,” said Sgt. First Class, Claude Bohannon. “While they remain in our thoughts, memories may fade.”
The monument will stand about 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide with a statue of the fallen solider, a cross with boots and a helmet. The monument will feature a reflection area and a brick walkway.
To raise funds for the monument, the 108th is selling four-by-eight inch engraved bricks. Each brick is $50.
“We need to get more people involved,” Bohannon said.
Each brick can be personalized with a three-line message; each line 18 characters long.
The monument was partially inspired by four soldiers lost in Afghanistan.
1st. Sgt. John Blair, 38, of Calhoun, died in Mado Zayi, Afghanistan, on June 20 when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle. He was an Army National Guardsman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment out of Lawrenceville.
In early June, Jeffrey William Jordan, 21, of Cave Spring, who served with the 108th Cavalry, was one of three soldiers from the Georgia National Guard unit killed in Afghanistan.
Seth Sharp, a Marine from Adairsville, died in July during the early days of Marines’ Operation Strike of the Sword.
Spc. Issac L. Johnson Jr., 24, of Columbus, was killed in July in Konduz, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced. Johnson was assigned to Rome-based Alpha Troop of the 108th Cavalry.
“Through this monument, they’ll be with us as long as it and this armory stand, always reminding us of the price they paid for the freedom of others,” Hausen said.
The 108th is also accepting donations from businesses.
“It has been word of mouth until this point, but we are really gaining momentum,” Hausen said.
The 108th has also put together an eight-member committee to oversee the construction.
Orders can be placed by visiting the armory on W. Line Street or by calling 706-879-2901.
“Right now, none of our deployed troops know about what we’re doing,” said Hausen. “The idea is to have it completed before they start returning home in March, and then hold a dedication ceremony after everyone is back.”
Bohannon said the committee submitted a proposal to the Army’s Construction and Facilities Maintenance Office on Jan. 27 and is awaiting approval.