CASCADE -- It was an emotional day in Cascade on Saturday as an Idaho soldier who gave his life in the defense of his country was remembered and all veterans were honored with the dedication of a memorial statue.
It may look like just a statue, but to the hundreds at Kelly's Whitewater Park Saturday, and hopefully, to the hundreds of thousands of future visitors, the sculpture standing in front of the park means so much more.
"It's very hard to describe, because it touches you so deep," said Hans Borbonus.
It's a sculpture of Hans Borbonus' son, Army Specialist John Borbonus. He was killed when he was just 19, serving in Iraq.
"Now, when I'm missing him, I can just go in the car, drive down here for 15 minutes and say hello to him," said Borbonus.
"It's quite a humbling experience, because in some way, I bring these people back to life," said the world-renowned sculptor, Lena Toritch. "Because photos are usually not enough. But they (statues) give them a chance just to touch a hand one more time, or stroke a cheek. It's three-dimensional, like bringing their son home again."
Borbonus' sacrifice of taking out a truck filled with explosives saved the lives of many men he was serving with, some of whom were there for the ceremony. The dedication included a missing man salute, as a single plane pulled away from a flyover. The man piloting that plane was Scotty Crandlemire, a childhood friend of Borbonus.
If you ever see the bronze portrait for yourself, it may look atypical of a stoic and stern military statue. That's because this statue bears John's signature smile.
"This young man was so unique," said Toritch. "He was so full of life, and he was described as a fun kid. So, the traditional composition wouldn't work for him. It had to be something special, depicting him personally."
While the statue is special, it isn't just a monument to Borbonus. He stands as an example of so many military men and women who, like him, made the ultimate sacrifice, and whose families are still missing them.
"I know how hard it is," said Borbonus. "It will never leave you. But something like this, does make things better."
The statue of John Borbonus is the first statue of an Iraq War veteran, of its size, to be erected on American soil.
Borbonus and Toritch both talked about how appropriate it was that both of them are immigrants, coming together to help honor John and their adopted country, the United States.