Sharing stories of sacrifice and service through art at Patriot Plaza

Sharing stories of sacrifice and service through art at Patriot Plaza

Posted on February 22, 2013 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation

The emotion on a father's face when his son returns from a tour of duty. It's more than joy and relief -- it shows that the sacrifice of service men and women extends to the families they leave behind.

It's not something you see every day, but when it's captured, it becomes art that touches the soul.

That's our goal with the commissioned art that will be integrated throughout Patriot Plaza -- to honor veterans and inspire those who experience the stories of courage, service and sacrifice to embrace patriotism and freedom.

As a private charitable entity, we enlisted the expertise of Ann Wykell, an art consultant, and a volunteer art advisory group of local and regional experts to carry out a call for artists that met national standards and attracted both local and national responses. The process also included private invitations to artists with acclaimed work and experience in specific areas. Beyond this, local resources – such as a Sarasota foundry – will be used in fabrication and installation of the art.

The art featured within Patriot Plaza includes:

Service, Support, Sacrifice and Witness to MissionLarry Kirkland, lead artist

Serving as the lead artist and site consultant for the art at Patriot Plaza, Kirkland designed two sections for the north walkways of the space. One section, Service, Support, Sacrifice, features photojournalism and text on white marble tablets that reflect the personal voices of those who experience military life.

The other section, Witness to Mission, uses photojournalism on white marble plinths to tell the narrative history of the United States Military since the Civil War through the experience of the men and women who made history. Kirkland’s previous work includes the Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Night to DayEllen Driscoll

Using the themes of military family and the branches of service, Driscoll designed a mosaic of a fictional landscape for the amphitheater’s rostrum (stage) that transitions from daylight to nighttime in a span of 50 feet to symbolize the time differences that are inherent in the lives of military families.

The mosaic depicts the five branches of the military through a line of ribbons awarded to service men and women for their valor. Two 20-foot-tall mosaic spires also carry this theme on the south walkways leading to the rostrum. Driscoll’s prior work includes designing the gates at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.

The following image is a detail shot - just a piece - of the 50-foot mosaic.

Sentinel EaglesPablo Eduardo

The Sentinel Eagles are designed for the west entrance to Patriot Plaza. Cast in bronze and approximately 8 feet tall, the eagle sculptures evoke vigilance and a sense of majesty. A sculptor for more than 30 years, Eduardo’s previous work includes a sculpture of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez at the University of Texas at Austin.

Home Ann Hirsch

Through themes of family and community that honor military service, Hirsch’s piece, Home, located at the east entrance of Patriot Plaza, depicts an American Bald Eagle nesting at home on one side of the entrance and the emblems of the five military branches on the other side with quote from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Hirsch’s previous work includes commissions for Concordia College, Vanderbilt University and Montauk Lighthouse Museum.

The Patterson Foundation, in partnership with the National Cemetery Administration, broke ground on Patriot Plaza in December 2012. A dedication is planned for 2014. Leading up to the dedication, The Patterson Foundation is working with the community to develop partnerships that honor veterans, inspire patriotism and embrace freedom through the Legacy of Valor community connecting campaign. For more information about Patriot Plaza and background on the artwork and artists, please visit

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