Merry Christmas from The Dakotan!
Published December 4, 2021

Angel of Hope Memorial brings life and remembrance

Written by
Patricia Stockdill
| The Dakotan
The Angel of Hope Memorial in Wilderness Park, Garrison [Photo: Patricia Stockdill/The Dakotan]
The Angel of Hope Memorial in Wilderness Park, Garrison [Photo: Patricia Stockdill/The Dakotan]

Garrison remembrance set for Dec. 6 

With open arms, the angel looks toward heaven; a rigid statue yet she’s filled with love, hope, and remembrance.  

She’s one of more than 100 Angel of Hope Memorial statues across the United States, with additional ones in Canada and Japan. This particular statue with her prayer and place of silent gathering rests in a corner of Garrison’s Wilderness Park.  

Surrounded by trees, it’s a serene, calming, and private place. A gentle bridge melds into flagstone pavers, leading visitors to the angel and moment of remembrance, meditation, and reflection.  

Garrison’s Angel of Hope has been part of a national symbol since 2017 to help grieving families deal with the loss of a child. Community leader Mike Matteson spearheaded efforts to bring the angel and memorial here. It’s a community of people – not just in the immediate town of Garrison, he stressed. The angel and her message of hope are for the broader community of people throughout the region who lost a child or know of a family suffering a loss.  

Recognizing the meaning and significance of the memorial, the Better Living for Garrison organization worked with The Angel of Hope Memorial committee to bring it to life Matteson said.  

The loss of a child can affect more than the family, it can affect an entire community. Matteson said he wanted to do something to help grieving parents and other family members – and the broader sense of community as a whole. “I thought that it would help everyone that was affected by that blow,” he reflected.  

“It’s a place you can go and be thankful for the children you have.” Mike Matteson, Garrison

Matteson said he found the project also helped him as it came to fruition. It was a way for him to help grieving friends after they lost a child, and in that process, he said he found something else – a way to be thankful.  “It’s a place you can go and be thankful for the children you have,” he added.  

It was one way to help someone suffering a family loss and in the process it helps others, as well.  

It reminds people to be thankful for those they have in their lives and is a way to celebrate the lives of those lost.  

The original Angel of Hope statue was placed in a Salt Lake City, Utah park in 1994. Its roots stem from the book The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans. It tells the story of a woman struggling with the loss of her child who discovers the treasured gift of life as she mourns at the base of an angel monument.  

Statues across the country are exact replicas to the original one in Salt Lake City. Remembrance ceremonies are held each year at 7 p.m. on Dec. 6, which is the date of the death of the child in the book. Visitors are invited to bring flowers, which are often white because they symbolize purity, innocence, inspiration, and faith. They are also welcome bring letters for loved ones in heaven to place in a box. 

Garrison’s gathering will also include a brief memorial ceremony at 7:45 p.m. with candle lighting and scripture reading. 

Wilderness Park is located at 5th St. NE, Garrison. The Angel of Hope Memorial is in the southeast corner of the park.  

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