Patriot Plaza at Sarasota National Cemetery is a unique amphitheater surrounded by stunning sculptures and artwork. Many have said it is like an outdoor museum. With that in mind, a program has been created that provides trained guides for those who would like to experience a tour of the space to uncover a deeper understanding of the purpose and meaning of Patriot Plaza.
The guide program was created by the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County in partnership with The Patterson Foundation and includes 20 guides who will present public tours. The tours begin this month and are scheduled for each Tuesday at 10am. The guide meets interested visitors at the East Entrance of Patriot Plaza, where Ann Hirsch's sculpture of two eagles in a nest is located. The tour lasts about 75 minutes and includes details about five commissioned works of art, a granite star projection map, and the four nationally known artists. Additionally, information about the National Cemetery Administration, Sarasota National Cemetery, and The Patterson Foundation is included.
Experiencing Patriot Plaza with a Guide
Each guided tour is conversation-based with an opportunity for visitors to ask questions and reflect on the meaning of the service and patriotism of our military personnel, both those on active duty and veterans. Since documentary photography is featured in two of the largest works of art, the guides worked diligently to become as familiar as possible with the many photographs featured – whether they are iconic or simply photographs taken by individuals that represent the experiences of military personnel or family members.
The guides are mostly retired individuals who come from many backgrounds – business, medicine, education, public service, and military service. Many are veterans and some are the spouses of veterans. All have a profound respect and feeling of responsibility to share the meaning of Patriot Plaza and say it is an honor for them to serve in this capacity – and many have chosen to serve as a guide in remembrance of their comrades or loved ones who may be buried at Sarasota National Cemetery.
Patriot Plaza Tour Guides must be volunteers of Sarasota National Cemetery. Each prospective guide must demonstrate solid public speaking skills and must be willing to participate in training sessions to learn the information they will share with visitors.
Training is provided by the Arts and Cultural Alliance about many topics including the amphitheater, art installations, visitor engagement skills, accessibility, and customer service. The Guide Training Program is six hours long with an opportunity to practice with a mentor as the guides prepare to present their first tour.
Attending a Tour
Public tours begin October 7 at 10am and are scheduled for each Tuesday except for federal holidays. Private group tours and school tours for students in Grades 4-12 begin in November. All tours are free and are open to everyone who is interested. To schedule a group or school tour, contact Cindy Balistreri at the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, 941-365-5118, x301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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