“…let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
~ Abraham Lincoln, second inaugural address 1865 ~
Sarasota National Cemetery is located east of Sarasota on Clark Rd (SR72) It is one of 131 national cemeteries maintained by the U.S. Veterans Administration across the country.
Through the partnership of the Veterans Association and The Patterson Foundation, an assembly area was added. Almost 3,000 people went to the Sarasota National Cemetery Saturday, June 28, for the dedication of Patriot Plaza. Patriot Plaza includes an amphitheater with seating for 2,800 people, an 80-foot stainless steel flagpole, a rostrum large enough to accommodate an orchestra, and an outdoor museum.
There are 22 marble art elements along the sidewalk that hold photographs of generations of soldiers dating back to the civil war.
And as you walk over cobblestones with engravings of “Honesty, Respect, Duty, Heroism, Valor, Defense, Discipline, Knowledge and Hardship”, there are 16 marble tablets with engravings and glass-printed photographs that cause you to appreciate and reflect on the military service of our men and women in uniform, past and present.
Dorothy Clarke Patterson created the Patterson Foundation five years after her husband’s death. The family boasts a long line of service to our country. Her husband James J Patterson graduated from West Point and was a captain in the U.S. Army. The Patterson Foundation made a strong commitment to honor veterans and their families by providing $12 million to design and build Patriot Plaza and then gift the venue to the VA’s National Cemetery Administration. The foundation will also provide an endowment for continuing maintenance.
Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president of the United States, was credited as the founder of the National Cemetery system. The practice of burying military personnel at their place of death or transporting them to a private cemetery selected by their family was inadequate due to mounting war casualties during the Civil War. On July 17, 1862, Congress empowered President Abraham Lincoln “to purchase cemetery grounds and cause them to be securely enclosed, to be used as a national cemetery for the soldiers who shall die in the service of the country.” An excerpt from his second inaugural address is posted at the east entrance to Patriot Plaza.
9,000 have been put to rest in the veteran’s cemetery since it opened two years ago. It is expected that full capacity of 150,000 burials will be reached in 50 years.
The Sarasota National Cemetery and Patriot Plaza are open from sun up to sun down. I took a few more photos as the sun set at the end of Sunday evening.