Fmr. Ft. Jackson commander creates garden for grieving parents

Fmr. Ft. Jackson commander creates garden for grieving parents

CHAPIN, SC (WIS) - On Saturday morning, a special garden will be dedicated next to the Chapin Town Hall and its creator says the garden will be the first of its kind in the Midlands.

Retired Maj. Gen. Steve Siegfried was the commander of Fort Jackson for several years during the early 90's. A few years prior to that, he had to do the hardest thing he's ever done: bury his son.

In the tranquil garden beside Chapin Town Hall there are magnolias, a growing Chinese maple, ornate benches, but most importantly, memories.

"I don't care how much stuff you put here, the most beautiful thing we've got here is the names of our children in those brick pavers," Siegfried said.

One of them is engraved with the name of Siegfried's son, Benjamin Thomas Siegfried, who was murdered back in 1988 near Columbus, Georgia.

"Our son was a former soldier like his daddy. He got out after two-and-a-half years. He was working at a convenience store and going to college. He was working at the convenience store at night. A drug addict came in and murdered him for $23 to get another shot of crack," Seigfried said.

It's a painful reality Siegfried and his wife have been living with for the past 26 and a half years.

"We need a place to go on father's day and mother's day and birthdays and death-days, and when the grief gets on you, you just have a hard time getting it off," Seigfried said. "Sometimes going to a graveyard is not all that of a happy event."

So Siegfried and support group "In Loving Memory" got an idea, getting the Town of Chapin's blessing to build a memorial garden outside of the new town hall.

"This place is gorgeous. It's serene. It's quiet. It's an appropriate place to go and remember your child and talk about them and talk about your child to your child," Seigfried said.

Siegfried hopes the word will spread that this special garden is for anyone and everyone who needs it.

The garden will be dedicated this Saturday morning at 10 a.m. during a short ceremony.

Siegfried says if you're interested in dedicating a brick to a lost loved one you can talk to either his wife or him at 803-345-7656.

Copyright 2015 WIS. All rights reserved.