Standing Tall: The Memorial Garden Miracle

The Memorial Garden Miracle
Hurricane Irene might have been gentler than expected in some quarters, but in West Hartford, Vermont, it produced a surreal and frightening landscape. The White River jumped its banks and sent waves of contaminated water into nearby homes. Shipping containers, propane tanks, and even entire trucks were spotted washing down the river near Patriots’ Bridge in the middle of the night.

Patti and Scott Holmes had a special connection to the flood zone. Their son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffery Holmes, was one of three fallen warriors honored on a monument in a memorial garden next to the bridge. Jeffery died on Thanksgiving Day 2004 in Fallujah during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was shot in the neck during an ambush and a rocket-propelled grenade destroyed his legs. Patti took some comfort knowing that her son had perished instantly, serving the military he wanted to join since he was nine years old.

The August hurricane spared Patti and Scott’s home. Patti didn’t realize how bad the situation had been at the monument site until one of Jeff’s friends sent a photo the next day. “When I opened it, I just started crying,” she says. All the flowers that volunteers lovingly tended were gone. The granite monument had toppled off its concrete base and was likely ruined. Alone at her desk, Patti wept for the fun-loving blue-eyed son who didn’t live to see his 21st birthday, the boy she still wrote on Christmas and birthdays. Now another piece of him had slipped away.

Scott drove to the bridge that night to see exactly what had happened but was forced to turn back. The torrential flooding had destroyed roads, dented railings on the bridge, and propelled a modular home into the middle of a street. Who knows how the angry waters had ravaged the monument?

But when Patti and Scott were finally able to get there later in the week, they were greeted with an extraordinary sight. Local residents had returned the monument to its proper place, unharmed. “I didn’t see a scratch, not even on top of it,” Patti marveled in joy and relief.

Friends have vowed to help Patti and Scott replant the garden. Come spring, irises, daisies and other flowers in hues of red, white, and blue will surround this community treasure, which is once again standing tall.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.