Mother honors troops with garden

Published 4:23 pm Monday, May 24, 2010

When her son Rusty joined the Army in 2003, Sheila Overby made a tiny garden for him and it has just “sort of grown.”

Today it covers a bank along Shelby County 36 in front of her Chelsea home.

Actually, the Overby front yard is a garden of plants and mementos under large shade trees, which once sported yellow ribbons.

Overby and husband, Billy, have created a seating area where they can relax and enjoy the garden. This is her sanctuary, she said.

Overby’s son was with the 25th Infantry deployed out of Hawaii. “They have been all over for a long time,” she said. Rusty served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although her son is no longer in the military, Overby continues to tend the garden where she honors his outfit, as well as others.

She has a nephew in the Marines, and her husband served in Vietnam. However, the garden is kept in honor of all our troops, she said.

The Texas transplant said she buys things at yard sales for the garden, and people leave flags out near the road.

Drivers slow down to look at the memorial garden and sometimes stop to thank her. Once a Vietnam vet’s granddaughter saw it; she told him about it and he came out to see it.

“He thanked me,” she said. “And told me he was glad to know that somebody cares. He left in tears.”

Overby said she plans to add 20 more flags for Memorial Day and Flag Day on June 14. “They will line the front of our property (an acre) and go down to our neighbors, the Newmans.”

She intends to keep this memorial until all our troops come home, she said.

Shelba Nivens can be reached by e-mail at