Podcast: The Story Behind the Utah Freedom Memorial

Adam Galvez died in Iraq in 2006.


“On July 29, 2006 his unit was bunked at a guard position and a suicide bomber carrying a truckload of fuel and 1,800 pounds of explosive came through the check point and blew up the building he was in,” says Adam’s father, Tony.

“There were four people killed in the attack, but Adam survived. He was buried alive. He heard gunfire and his fellow Marines calling for help.”

Tony says Adam was able to dig himself out, then started to dig out his comrades by hand.

“He realized that would be futile. He ran through gunfire to get a shovel off his light armored vehicle to dig his friends out. He told me he could hear the bullets pinging on the ground.”

After Adam’s wounds healed, he decided to stay with his unit in Iraq instead of coming home.

“His first deployment after he returned, his truck ran over an IED and he was killed,” says Tony.

The next year a local boy for his Eagle Scout project asked Tony if he could work to get a street in Salt Lake City named after Adam.

“As they unveiled the street, I looked at the father of the other Marine who as killed along with Adam and wondered who was going to do something for him. That’s the genesis of this monument. It’s not a monument to Adam, but to all the living and the fallen – those who have served and who are going to serve.”

Galvez has worked for seven years to bring the Utah Freedom Memorial to life in front of the Sandy City Hall.

“It has an educational component as well as being a memorial.

“We want to teach kids what it means to raise your hand and say ‘I will go,’ knowing they will not come back. What kind of dedication that takes.”

Galvez talks with me about the struggle to bring the memorial to life.


[Closing song: “When the Morning Comes” – Hall and Oates, from the album Abandoned Luncheonette]