Given we were "marooned" today, Debbie suggested we go see the Sarasota National Cemetery. With my expectations set by several other veterans' cemeteries I visited or for services for friends and family members who have been interred … I was extremely impressed with Sarasota's.
It is a 295-acre site with space for 18,200 casket burials,
and 500 in-ground cremations, is administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and is the sixth in Florida an expected to hold more than ten burials per day for the next ten years as World War II and Korean veterans die.
The focal point of the grounds is Patriot Plaza.
In addition to two sophisticated glass and steel space frame canopies over the main seating area and stage, this project also features precast concrete seating for 2,800 people, an 80’ flagpole as the center point of the space, and extensive landscaping and hardscaping. The Patterson Foundation is capping off the project with artwork throughout, including cast bronze Eagles standing guard at the entry,
The American Bald Eagles welcome visitors in their familiar roles as teh symbols of our democracy.
The nest occupied by an adult American Bald Eagleand an eaglet is a vision of home, where acts of everyday life occur. Here, the eaglet prepares to leave the safe and nurturing nest, to take flight in the world and face challenges and dangers.
The empty branches symbolize a nest, cradle or even a boat. The quote;
"… Let us strive on …to care for himwho shall have borne the battle for his widow and his orphan …"
is from Abraham Lincoln's 2ed Inaugural Address in which he calls on Congress to attend to the needs of Veterans and their Families.
The well-known symbols are reimagained as protective guradians and vigilant sentinels to the visitor to Patriot Plaza and the graves beyond.
The small markers will soon be repalced with new grave stones
a mural at the stage, and other pieces visible from every angle of approach and the entire seating area.
A map of the world is set in the center of the amphitheater and emphasizes the global readh of the United States Armed Forces.
Surrounding the Amphitheater are three groupings.
NIGHT AND DAY
An mosaic imagry landscape of earth, sea and sky, with the sky changing from night to day and back to night again. The landscape evokes the global presence of teh United States military and the lives of those who serve … sometimes separated from their families by great distances. The winds blow laurel leaves, an ancient symbol of honor and distinction.
Sixteen Georgia white marble tabletsrelate stories in words and images about serving in the military and being a military family. There are stories on each tablet; a photograpgh etched on a laminated glass "window"; and etched drawing by the artist based on a photograph, and words of those who served, supported and sacrificed in the military life.
Along the Testimonies walkway are etched stones highlighting the attributes to which all veterans aspire.
WITNESS TO MISSIONS
A collection of forty-nine photographs tell multiple stories of the military experience of Americans since the Civil War.
The images are moments of military life at war and in peace times.
Army helicopters providing cover fire for U.S. troops engaging the Viet Cong along the Cambodian border
US troops rest in dense jungle around the embattled town of Binh Gia
General Herman Haupt, aboard a pair of small pontoons to facilitate scouting operations, was responsible for constructing and operating Union railroads and bridges during the Civil War
Two U.S. Navy sailors from the escort carrier USS Liscome Bay (CVE) are buried at sea from the deck of a U.S. Coast Guard assault transport. The Liscome Bay was bound for the Gilbert Islands when it was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine, resulting in trememdous casualties.
U.S. Army Sargeant Louis Van Iersel was one of the most highly decorated soldiers of World War I and is believed to be the first non-citizen to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. A Dutch immigrant, Van Iersel enlisted on the day American entered the war and became a U.S. citizen in 1919. He also served in the 3rd Marine Division during World War II.
A U.S. Air Force officer returns to Clark AIr Force Base after spending more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam
Navy Seaman 1st Class Duane Reyelts, a survivor of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, remembers frllow service men during the 60th Pearl Harbor Day ceremony aboard the USS De Wert (FFG-45) at the US Naval Station, Mayport, FL
Marine Cpl. Justin Gaertner was on his thrid deployment when he lost both of his legs above the knee, and suffered severe damage to his left arm in an improvised explosive device blast in Marjah, Afghanastan on November 26, 2010.
On a small, nearby grass knoll, a lone flag stands a silent vigil recognizing those unaccounted Prisoners of War and veterans who remain Missing in Action.