ALPINE — Bradley Taggart recalls sitting in his office more than a year ago, watching videos of U.S. soldiers returning to their families.
It got the sculptor thinking about creating a memorial to express his gratitude to those who have served their country in the military.
The next day, Taggart received a call from a former student of his at Snow College, informing him about plans in Taylorsville for a memorial honoring veterans in all branches of the military.
On Monday, Taggart visited Adonis Bronze, where his clay sculpture is being transformed into a bronze statue that will be unveiled Nov. 11 as part of Taylorsville's Veterans Day celebration.
It's a dream come true for Taggart, who founded Snow College's sculpting program.
"I love the idea that this is honoring people I know, students I know who have gone away to battle, friends of mine who have gone away to war," he said.
Taggart's sculpture is the first of nine planned for the 100-foot-wide, 250-foot-long and 10-foot-tall memorial.
"This is my opportunity to say thank you to those people who have put so much of their lives on hold to go out and serve our country," he said. "It makes me feel part of something far bigger than myself."
The transformation from clay sculpture to bronze statue takes many steps.
First, a wax of the original is created, dipped in paint five to seven times and coated with sand. Then, 2,150-degree liquid bronze is poured into the mold, the wax is melted out, ceramic is chipped off and the pieces are welded together.
The $318,000 project is being funded by Taylorsville, with assistance from the Utah Department of Community and Culture and several private donors. The city also has received several in-kind donations that have kept the costs to the city down.
"It's very important that the community comes together to contribute time and effort for a project like this," said Don Adams, Taylorsville's economic development director.
Taylorsville's Veterans Day celebration gets under way at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11, with a parade. At 12:15 p.m., a program featuring Gov. Gary Herbert as the keynote speaker will be held outside City Hall, 2600 W. Taylorsville Blvd. The first sculpture of the Taylorsville Veterans Memorial will be unveiled during that program.