A U.S. Army soldier from eastern Iowa, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, is being remembered with a memorial inside Davenport North High School. Katie Soenksen was 19 years old when she died on May 2, 2007. She joined the Army after graduating from North.
A life-size woodcarving of Soenksen will be dedicated this evening during an ROTC awards ceremony at the school. Quad Cities artist Thom Gleich created the woodcarving and says he wanted the piece to depict the soldier’s cheerful personality.
“I thought to myself, I don’t want Katie at attention because if you’re at attention, there’s no smile. I thought the smile is very much apart of her and how she ought to be remembered,” Gleich said. The woodcarving features Soenksen in her military uniform. Gleich said he tried to depict Katie with a bit of a smile, but also as if she was a moment away from attention.
“I chose to do that so that she could be remembered in not just a military way, but also the way fellow students and teachers saw her here at North High School from day to day,” Gleich said. The special education teacher at North estimates he spent 150 hours working on the woodcarving.
“I have to say, after I met with Katie’s mom and she really liked the piece and how it was done, that was the first night I slept through the night in about a month’s time…because I wanted it to turn out right,” Gleich said. ROTC students at North raised $1,000 to cover Gleich’s expenses to create the memorial.