A TACTICAL MANEUVER… IN FORMATION
Something other than a congregation of souls is rising heavenward at the Sarasota National Cemetery. Dubbed Patriot Plaza, a commanding symbol of salute in the form of a ceremonial amphitheater – the first of its kind – is under construction.
Design and development of the $10 million legacy initiative was conceived and fully funded by the Patterson Foundation, inspired by newspaper heirs, James and Dorothy Patterson, who have a long history of military service within their family. Their masterpiece will be donated to the National Cemetery Administration during a dedication scheduled for June 28th of this year, 2014.
The impressive height of the structure dominates the expansive burial grounds that are dotted by memorial stones, occasional committal shelters, and columbaria structures.
A fifty-foot-tall roof was raised into position by 2 cranes.
Currently, bare bones of the skeletal framework are being dressed with plates of green glass.
There will be permanent seating for one thousand people, and additional room for eighteen hundred more. A bandstand was designed to accommodate a fifty-five-piece orchestra.
At least ten events a year are envisioned. Visitors to the cemetery will be permitted to tour the arena site.
Artwork for Patriot Plaza will include statues, inspirational quotes, and photos of veterans and their families. While recognizing individuals who served in the Armed Forces, their stories will be preserved for future generations. Local and national artists responded to the call for relevant pieces that would meet standards and preserve memories through art.
Sentinel Eagles will be at the entrance to Patriot Plaza to “help create a beautiful, majestic entrance that is both imposing and intimate.”
“The east entrance to Patriot Plaza is a transitional space between the cemetery at large and the side of the ceremonial amphitheater dedicated to themes of family and community that honor military service.”
“The stage is a focal point for Patriot Plaza. The 50’ x 3’ mosaic on the front of the stage depicts an imaginary landscape of Earth, Air, and Water in which all five branches of the military carry out their work around the world.”
“This is the first time a private foundation is partnering with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to work on an enhancement of this complexity at a national cemetery.” They intend to share their partnership model with communities associated with any of the country's one hundred thirty-one national cemeteries – if interested in considering similar projects.
With each annual visit to the Sarasota National Cemetery, the Fly’Bye Lady observes signs of progress. The modern facilities are uplifting, and there appears to be considerable potential for expansion. So all ye snowbird veterans hanging out in the Sarasota environs might want to meander over to Clark Road for a peek at the possibilities.
Quoted segments from: http://patriotplaza.thepattersonfoundation.org/