Photo: [L] TPF Fellow Kellie Alexander

Power of Place, Power of Philanthropy — Patriot Plaza

Posted on September 07, 2022 by Kellie Alexander, TPF Fellow 2022/24
Patriot Plaza, located within Sarasota National Cemetery, is for anyone, with or without military experience, to honor service and sacrifice.

Patriot Plaza, a partnership between The Patterson Foundation (TPF) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration, is the first relationship of its kind, demonstrating how TPF pushes boundaries for its community and changes the world through innovative philanthropy. The details, down to each word, make this place a true representation of what military life entails.

Before moving to Sarasota, Florida, to embark on a journey with TPF, I lived in Eastern North Carolina with my spouse, Caleb Alexander, a United States Marine. Throughout our youth, we heard stories of service and sacrifice, and then both witnessed my older brother Trey's strength while serving in the Coast Guard. My family has been through many adventures with military life, and I am honored to have supported my spouse and sibling, first as active-duty military and now as veterans.

at PPPatriot Plaza, full of art, testimonials, photographs, and familiar symbols, creates a moving experience and contributes to the power of this final resting place. While touring with Caleb, we looked upon an art piece named Night to Day, Here and Away by Ellen Driscoll. I thought about my time away from Caleb. This towering mosaic spire represents the time and space differences between military members and loved ones as we often spend weeks to months in different time zones. Thinking back to a time when Caleb and I were on different continents showed me how authentic and intentional each piece is. There were nights I would stay up until a text or a phone call came through that he was okay thousands of miles from me. We are grateful to see this representation. Patriot Plaza encouraged us to connect, recognize, and remember what we had gone through and what so many service members have done and will continue to do.

Walking through Patriot Plaza encouraged me to reflect on my own life experience while listening to a tour from Linda Gould, consultant for TPF and retired Colonel of the U.S. Army. However, the power of Patriot Plaza is that you don't need to have my life experience. You can come to this welcoming atmosphere as you are to learn, feel, and connect with stories of service and sacrifice.

This place, created by philanthropy and partnership, is an inspiration and a beautiful model of what's possible when we look further into opportunities for impact.

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