By Lauren Tjaden
Discover some of the most inspiring military memorials and monuments in Florida, shrines marking the sacrifice of the men and women who fought our nation’s battles, places you can visit, remember and reflect.
THE VETERANS MEMORIAL WALL, JACKSONVILLE
Dedicated in November of 1995, this 65-foot-long black, granite monument bears the names of servicemen and women from World War I through the War on Terror, giving tribute to over 1,700 Jacksonville area American war heroes. The outdoor memorial is heralded as the largest of its kind and the only wall that honors Veterans from all six service branches -Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. Situated close to EverBank Field in downtown Jacksonville, The Veterans Memorial is the second largest memorial wall in the nation, second only to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Where: 1145 East Adams Street, Jacksonville
KOREAN WAR MEMORIAL, TALLAHASSEE
Nestled inside a quiet park in Florida’s capital city, The Florida Korean War veterans memorial is striking, different, and moving. Follow the walkway to a plaza encompassing a circle of red marble inscribed with the words “Duty, Honor, Country”. The circle represents the purity of the Circle of Life-- but the top is missing. The missing piece of the circle lies nearby with the word “Life” inscribed on it, as well as the names of the 538 Floridians who died while serving in Korea. You’ll also find the traditional military commemoration of a fallen comrade: a pair of boots with the rifle implanted in them, tip down, and an empty helmet resting on the rifle’s butt.
Where: 790-798 Suwannee St., Tallahassee
VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK, PENSACOLA
The park’s website says it all: ‘The path to freedom comes with great sacrifice, not only for the ones we lost, but for the ones we left behind.’ Dedicated to honoring the heroes who sacrificed their lives in the defense of this nation, this peaceful park that encircles a lake includes a Purple Heart Memorial, a Minuteman Memorial, a Walk of Honor, a Marine Bell Tower, a Vietnam War Wall, and many other moving monuments. Check out this video, HONORING WARRIORS AT PENSACOLA'S VETERANS MEMORIALS PARK.
Where: 200 S. 10th Ave., Pensacola
CIRCLE OF HEROES, OFF OF THE PINELLAS COUNTY COAST
Located west of Clearwater Beach, this tribute can truthfully claim it transports visitors to another world, a quiet, peaceful place that’s utterly unlike other memorials… because it rests in 40 feet of water. The memorial at Veteran's Reef features six-foot statues as well as a center monument bearing the bronze emblems of five military branches, providing a unique diving experience for veterans, wounded warriors and tourists. The veterans memorial plans to add more statues in the future.
Where: 10 miles off of the Pinellas County coast in 40 feet of water, coordinates are on the Facebook page
Web: facebook.com/circleofheroesFL and brighterfutureflorida.org
FLORIDA NATIONAL CEMETERY, BUSHNELL
Impeccably kept, serene and beautiful, the Florida National Cemetery encompasses sweeping green fields and ancient oaks, honoring veterans with a special resting place. The vast rows of white headstones are a reminder of how many have served our country. The Veterans Memorial Pathway, bordered by over 50 memorials, commemorates soldiers and veterans of 20th-century conflicts. You’ll also find a carillon standing in an open meadow, donated by The American Veterans in 1993. Its main assembly area is gilded with an open colonnade often used for Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies.
Where: 6502 SW 102nd Ave, Bushnell
CENTRAL FLORIDA VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK, ORLANDO
Nestled on the shores of a tranquil lake, this veterans memorial is located adjacent to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, only a short stroll to the campus chapel, nursing home and assisted living facility. It honors approximately 1,100 veterans from Orange, Lake, Brevard, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia counties who made the ultimate sacrifice. These six central Florida counties are home to 400,000 veterans, with more former military personnel over 65-years-old than in any other place in the nation. Complete with shaded seating, each side of the main memorial houses smaller, more private areas with granite monuments dedicated to fallen service members who died in specific wars.
Web: veteransmemoriallakenona.org/ and facebook.com/cfvmpf
VETERANS MEMORIAL AT VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK, LEESBURG
Located across from City Hall in downtown Leesburg, this granite memorial stands an impressive 10-feet high and 60-feet around, and commands attention with a Huey Helicopter perched atop its Vietnam Wall. Dedicated to honoring all the Veterans in Lake-Sumter-Marion Counties and The Villages, it’s recognized as one of the largest Veteran memorials in the Southeast, with the names of over 9,000 veterans currently inscribed on the wall. New names are added twice annually.
Where: 404 N. Blvd E. (Hwy 441), Leesburg
VETERAN’S MEMORIAL, LAKE PLACID
This Memorial features a 7½-foot fountain, two majestic eagles, landscaping, and a seating area with benches where you can reflect and pay respects to the brave men and women who fought for our safety and freedom.
Where: US Hwy 27 South and Anderson Street, Sebring
THE MIAMI MILITARY MUSEUM AND MEMORIAL
Military service, sacrifice, and accomplishment: the museum highlights them and their importance to the community, Florida and the nation. The building itself is a memorial; it was the headquarters and is the last remaining structure of Naval Air Station Richmond, and throughout the Cold War it was a CIA Station concentrating on anti-Castro activities. Visitors can explore the history of WWII in south Florida, as well as Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan, focusing on Florida and particularly on Miami-Dade County. Visits are by appointment only.
Where: 12460 SW 152nd Street, Miami
WALL OF HONOR, MIAMI
In the hurried center of Miami International Airport’s Concourse D, where most of the airport’s 44 million passengers pass annually, you’ll be greeted by the Wall of Honor, a majestic memorial of polished, black granite that spans 51 feet. It serves as an enduring salute to 119 members of South Florida’s military troops who’ve died in the global war on terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001. In the commotion of air travel, it provides a moment of reflection for travelers.
The surface of the wall is reflective, inviting visitors to create rubbings of the names. One side of the wall is decorated with the seals of the five U.S. military branches while the opposite side features an 18-minute film tribute that includes photos of some of the troops who died.
Where: Concourse D, Miami International Airport, 2100 NW 42nd Ave, Miami
FLORIDA KEYS HISTORICAL MILITARY MEMORIAL
Mallory Square, famed for its Key West sunset celebrations, is home to a handsome military memorial dedicated to the men and women who have served, chronicling military events that affected Key West and the Florida Keys. Simple and elegant, the display highlights events beginning in 1822, when the U.S. Navy raised the American flag over Key West through today. It even has a gun turret recovered from the battleship Maine, which departed from Key West, prior to being sunk in the Havana Harbor.
Where: 1 Whitehead St., Mallory Square, Key West
VIETNAM MEMORIAL WALL OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, PUNTA GORDA
At 273 feet long, nearly 7 feet high at its tallest point, and two inches thick, the Vietnam Memorial Wall of Southwest Florida is about half the size of the original memorial wall in Washington, D.C. Located in Laishley Park along the Peace River, the memorial harmonizes with its surroundings, fronted by a pond with a fountain and illuminated at night. Park benches are positioned nearby, as are other Charlotte County veteran monuments.
Where: 100 Nesbit Street, Punta Gorda,