Monday, November 10, 2014

A Beautiful Place to Rest.....A Tribute to Our Military

Sparky started this post before we went on a trip to North Carolina and between subbing and the trip, it accidentally got posted as a partial post. Oops! Here's the final version with the beautiful photos to accompany it. Thought this might be an appropriate post to put out in honor of Veterans' Day.

Over the summer, we had heard about the new Patriot Plaza over at the Sarasota National Cemetery, which was dedicated this summer, so we decided to head over there to see it.....The National Cemetery is relatively new, started in 2007. It's a pretty 295 acre park in Sarasota county, along state road 72, and 4 miles east of interstate 75. It's along the way as you are driving towards Myakka River State Park from exit 205. The cemetery is open from sunrise to sunset and there's no admission charge.

It's a beautiful, active cemetery....We were especially interested in the Patriot Plaza, a 2,800 seat amphitheater with outstanding sculptures, structures, artwork, historical photographs and amazing mosaics and interrelated symbolism of the military and their families. It's amazingly beautiful, as a cemetery should be......We studied each part of the plaza carefully, as there are many stories and themes throughout...Here are the sections of the plaza and a little bit about them....

The Main Mosaic--Night to Day, Here and Away.....
The mosaic is located at the front of the stage inside Patriot Plaza...Made of hand cut glass and ceramic mosaic, it is 50' by 3' and is an imaginary landscape of earth, air and water. It symbolizes all five branches of the military carrying out their work around the world. The landscape changes from night to day and then back again to night. It's a symbol of the time differences many military families experience. Sparky can relate to this very personally as her daughter is on her second overseas tour of duty and when it's daytime here in FL, it's night where she is. It's always a struggle to be able to find the time to talk.....

There is a line of military ribbons that runs the whole length of the mosaic, ribbons that are awarded to distinguished service men and women--The Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross and more. There are blue stars and gold stars...The blue are for the service members currently serving, and the gold stars for those who die in service. These stars are seen in the main mosaic and on the two mosaic towers that are near the center stage.

There is more symbolism....Laurel leaves signify valor, courage and achievement. Near the stage are two mosaic towers that repeat the themes of the stage designs.

The Guardian Eagles at the West Entrance....
The two bronze eagles welcome visitors at the west entrance to Patriot Plaza. They look like they are standing guard, and they represent the military's role as guardians of our freedom. They are seven feet tall and quite impressive! There is one at each side of the wall, here is just one.

Testimonies.....
These are Cherokee white marble from Tate, Georgia....They consist of 16 white marble tablets that are 8'6" tall and 8" deep. They are very personal stories about being in the service and/or what it's like to have a family member in the military. Each tablet has a window cut out, and a thick glass plate imprinted with a photographic image. Below the image, there is an engraved drawing and text of a personal story. The stories span generations of military service implying that the military has always and will be a life challenge for families.

Witness to Mission.....
Forty-nine photographs are mounted on 22 rectangular pieces of white Georgia marble. These are like a photographic collage or collection of sorts of the military experience since the Civil War. The photographs were culled from over 1,000 military subjects since the camera was invented. The final 49 are all about ordinary people who served and made sacrifices for their country. The way the columns are arranged with intimate spaces in-between invites you to step in and truly become more involved.
Throughout these marble panels are the themes of conflict, rituals of burial, celebrations, technology through time, military life and work, how the military has changed over time, the US military around the globe, and the family circle of support.

"Home"....Two curved walls...One has a nest with an adult American eagle and an eaglet...The nest signifies the soldier's home, and although it is understood the eagle learns to protect its home, it may have to leave some day in order to protect freedoms. Did you know the eagle became our national symbol for its loyalty and courage to protect its family?  From the cemetery website, Sparky learned that while in their nests, parent eagles "ball up" their talons so they won't hurt their young. They use their wings to protect their young from harm. There is more symbolism in the empty nest on the other wall, but you'll just have to come to the Patriot Plaza to learn more about the rest of these marvelous and beautiful installations....

This is truly one of the most beautiful cemeteries we have ever seen...And if you are ever in he Sarasota/Bradenton area, this is something you shouldn't miss.....Thank you to the Patterson Foundation who funded and sponsored the construction of this beautiful ceremonial amphitheater. It's a treasure we are lucky to have here in Sarasota.....

God bless all who served and are currently serving......Thank you.....

3 comments:

  1. Wow.. what a great tribute... and such a wonderful testiment to those who served.

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