Memorial Day ceremony at Patriot Plaza honors those who served

Memorial Day ceremony at Patriot Plaza honors those who served

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Beth Duda, playwright and director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

I’m so glad I attended the Memorial Day ceremony at Patriot Plaza yesterday. It was thrilling to see the space once again used so effectively -- this time, to honor those who died during active military service.

I arrived early to walk the grounds and experience all the flags placed so carefully at each gravesite. I watched as each presenting group arrived and interacted with one another. What seemed a bit unfocused and confusing at first soon turned to order as each person contributed their time and talent with a pure intent.

There were no “stars” or no controlling egos. Rather, everyone was simply gathered to honor those who serve, and that spirit resonated throughout the plaza. There was a real sense of community, purpose, and majesty. My heart swelled as I watched people experience the art, some for the first time.

I loved the juxtaposition of the older veterans with visceral memories of the sacrifices made by themselves and their friends and young children dressed in red, white and blue not really understanding the significance of the day. Both groups ramrod straight as they sang our National Anthem and pledged their allegiance to our country.

The beauty and significance of the architecture and art were matched by the glorious weather and heartfelt memories. As a result, our individual remembrances became much more. They joined in some way, creating a palpable sense of import.

Each of us experiencing the space through the ceremony received a gift from The Patterson Foundation. This glorious place, which started with the seeds of “seats and shade,” allowed each of us to feel more deeply, ponder more universally, and join together for moments of profound reverence. What a magnificent gift Patriot Plaza is to the entire community.


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