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Community and family honor fallen soldier at garden groundbreaking

photoTimes-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny Potomac Falls High School principal Janice Koslowski and Doug Green, father of U.S. Army Spec. Doug Green, Jr., who was killed in Afghanistan last August, hug after breaking ground on a garden designed in his honor. Around 200 people attended the ceremony Nov. 12 at Potomac Falls High School in Sterling.

More than a year after U.S. Army Spec. Douglas Green, Jr. was killed in Afghanistan, his Potomac Falls High School community came together in a nighttime ceremony to break ground for a garden in his memory. 

Green, of Sterling, was 23 when he was killed Aug. 28, 2011, after his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan.  He was deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

His life and values were celebrated the event’s speakers, including Doug Green, Sr., Doug’s father.

“He was a one of a kind kid who had a sense of humor,” Green, Sr. said. “He felt that duty was very important.”

Jim Chrisman, a retired teacher who taught for 14 years at Potomac Falls and veteran, praised Doug’s desire to serve.

He referenced two high school friends he knew that died fighting in Vietnam.

“I think that the ultimate sacrifice that they made has allowed me to exercise the rights and the freedoms that I enjoy in this country,” Chrisman said. “I believe Doug took the enthusiasm and lust for life that he demonstrated in Potomac Falls and carried that into his military service. He a developed a sense a sense of responsibility along with leadership and maturity that made him the solder that he was.”

He said Green’s appreciation for life was a trait he hoped all students in Potomac Falls could learn.

“I wish we could bottle that philosophy and give it to the students here at Potomac Falls so they could take a step back each day to look at their life and enjoy what blessings and opportunities they have,” Chrisman said.

Chrisman praised Doug as open-minded and not too quick to judge or label people.

“You don’t have necessarily have to know or even like someone to show them respect,” Chrisman said. “Just think what a better world we would have if everyone followed this philosophy.”

The garden, made up of four birch trees, two smaller trees, donated benches and a hardscape, will be between art on the Potomac Falls lawn and the sports field, two central parts of Doug’s life.

“We want them to think about Doug, even though none of them knew him,” Koslowski said. “What he did and what it meant to all of us . . . we wanted it to be a place any single one of you could come any time you got the inclination.”

The event also had an unexpected speaker, a fellow veteran, Heyden Gafford, from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1177 in Leesburg.

“I have never in my life saw so many posts online for a gentleman that were all positive,” Gafford said. “Even the teachers know him by Dougie . . . that man’s presence and his ability to force his will is amazing.”

Gafford saluted Green’s decision to serve in the military over pursuing an IT career or another lucrative field.

“He had opportunities to go and do so many other things and make the easy choice,” Gafford. “He could’ve made a life in IT, or probably as a comedian as I’m understanding. He chose a life that was harder. He chose the path that was less easy to make sure that each and every one of us . . . had the ability to have a nice and better life . . that choice is difficult.”

Dr. Glenn Loebig, of Loebig Chiropractors in Great Falls, donated $4,244 at the ceremony to send donations and care package to deployed soldiers for Christmas.

“I’ve always felt a heartfelt thing for veterans and any kind of cause we can do,” Loebig. “We treat veterans for three to six months after they come back [overseas] . . . we’re just pleased to help in any way that we can.”

Potomac Falls still needs about $7,000 to finish the garden, and about $10,000 to buy more than six trees.

“We’ll try to do the hardscape first, and in the spring we’ll do plantings,” Green said at the ceremony Nov. 12.

Benches were donated by Victor Stanley, a small company in Maryland, according to Green.

The school system used money from its budget to put a plaque of Green on the brick wall behind the garden.



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