Patriot Plaza

January 2010 – Present

Patriot Plaza

The Purpose

Our nation's national cemeteries are the final resting places for men and women who served our country with unmatched valor. Patriot Plaza, a 2,800-seat ceremonial amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery in Florida, features commissioned art that honors veterans, inspires patriotism, and embraces freedom. The space is a place of peace and reflection and exists for our community to honor veterans through ceremonies and events for generations to come. Patriot Plaza was dedicated and donated to the National Cemetery Administration on June 28th, 2014, in front of more than 3,000 community members and dignitaries.

Strengthening the Impact

The Patterson Foundation worked closely with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration on the design and construction of Patriot Plaza — the first time private philanthropy collaborated with the agency to complete an enhancement of this complexity. Fully funded by The Patterson Foundation, the $12 million Patriot Plaza is a model for other communities with national cemeteries and promotes the National Cemetery Administration’s burial services for eligible veterans and family members. Less than 20 percent of those eligible use the burial benefits — whether they pass away in service or decades later.


The Patterson Foundation is creating new opportunities for our community to connect with Patriot Plaza’s stories of service and sacrifice by contributing pieces of its commissioned artwork to community partners working to strengthen our veterans and military families. Each piece of art once stood within the “Testimonies” exhibit at Patriot Plaza prior to replacement during the amphitheater’s regular upkeep. Featuring a photographic image encased in glass and a Georgia white marble tablet inscribed with an engraved drawing and text, the art reflects the personal voices of those who have served, supported, and sacrificed across generations of military history. Read more about this effort on The Patterson Foundation’s blog.

PP Art Partnership Photo


Click on frequently asked questions below to learn more about this initiative...

Why does The Patterson Foundation support the Patriot Plaza initiative?

The Patterson Foundation’s investment in Patriot Plaza honors the Patterson family’s history of military service as well as the service and sacrifice of all our nation’s veterans and their families. The donation serves to strengthen the way our region honors people who served in our nation’s armed forces.

What is the connection between the Patterson family’s military service history and the early stages of the National Cemetery Administration?

Partnering with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration since 2010, we learned we share an intertwined past.

1855 – Joseph Medill buys into the Chicago Tribune, helps create the Republican Party, and is influential in Abraham Lincoln's election to President in 1860.
1862 – Congress authorizes President Lincoln to purchase grounds for a national cemetery, establishing the beginning of the national cemetery system as we know it today.
1914 – Medill's grandsons Col. Robert McCormick and Capt. Joseph Medill Patterson serve in the U.S. armed forces during World War I.
1944 – Medill's great grandson James J. Patterson graduates from West Point and achieves rank of Captain in the U.S. Army.
1946 – Medill's grandson Capt. Joseph Medill Patterson is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
1997 – Five years after James J. Patterson's death, his widow, Dorothy Clarke Patterson, creates The Patterson Foundation.

How was the National Cemetery Administration involved in the Patriot Plaza initiative?

The Patterson Foundation worked closely with National Cemetery Administration officials to help Patriot Plaza become a reality. This engagement was the first time a private foundation partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to work on an enhancement of this complexity at a national cemetery. The collaborative model is being shared with communities and with national cemeteries that may be interested in exploring how they can develop their own partnerships with the National Cemetery Administration.

Milestones included:
2024 – Patriot Plaza's 10th Anniversary Celebration
2008 – Groundbreaking and dedication of Sarasota National Cemetery.
2010 – The Patterson Foundation launches its vision, including a multi-million-dollar partnership to construct Patriot Plaza, an amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery.
2012 – Patriot Plaza groundbreaking at Sarasota National Cemetery.
2014 – Patriot Plaza dedication at Sarasota National Cemetery.

What is the impact of The Patterson Foundation’s donation of Patriot Plaza?

  • Ceremonial Amphitheater — Patriot Plaza, itself, is a tangible outcome for our community that has never before had a space dedicated to ceremonies and events honoring veterans and their families. It is a place for the community to take pride in and use for generations to come.
  • Partnership Model — The Patterson Foundation is sharing its public-private partnership model with other communities nationwide. The lessons learned from this project will hopefully help others navigate similar philanthropic partnerships.
  • Economic Impact — Labor and materials associated with Patriot Plaza had more than a $3 million economic impact on our region.
  • Commissioned Art — More than $2 million in art installations at Patriot Plaza provide our region with ways to experience the challenges and sacrifices of military service. In addition, The Patterson Foundation led the development of a program to train Patriot Plaza Guides to give tours in partnership with the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County.
  • Education — Patriot Plaza is among the explorations listed on, an online tool tying community experiential learning opportunities with state and national education standards. The Patterson Foundation created EdExploreSRQ in partnership with Sarasota County Schools.
  • Tourist Attraction — Patriot Plaza is one of Sarasota’s must-see destinations.
Learn more about Patriot Plaza’s impact through the latest report by The Patterson Foundation.

What other work is connected to the Patriot Plaza initiative?

Legacy of Valor — Beginning in 2013, through 100 Legacy of Valor partnerships lasting 13 months, our caring community rallied around the more than 100,000 veterans and their families who live and work in Southwest Florida. The community movement was built through the “Freedom. Pass It On.” campaign featuring local veterans. This enthusiasm lives on at Patriot Plaza as our community uses the space to honor veterans and their stories for generations to come.

Veterans Legacy Summit — After The Patterson Foundation presented Patriot Plaza to our local community in the summer of 2014, it shared this unique public-private partnership with leaders from across the country in November 2014 during the Veterans Legacy Summit. Leaders from the government, military, philanthropy, national veterans-serving organizations, and others supporting veterans came together to share ideas, learn about unique partnerships such as Patriot Plaza, challenge assumptions, and push the boundaries of potential to honor our nation’s heroes.

Who can I contact about the Patriot Plaza initiative?

For inquiries, contact initiative consultant Victoria Finley:

Additional FAQ's

Click on frequently asked questions below to learn more about the Patriot Plaza amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Florida...

How do I schedule an event at Patriot Plaza?

The first step in planning any event at Patriot Plaza is to contact the Director of Sarasota National Cemetery, 941-922-7200, after you have reviewed the Patriot Plaza Event Hosting Guidelines. Expenses related to hosting events at Patriot Plaza are the responsibility of the event sponsors.

How do I tour Patriot Plaza?

Patriot Plaza is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Admission is free. Weekly tours of Patriot Plaza take place on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. except for federal holidays. Participants should meet at the east entrance of Patriot Plaza near the bronze sculpture “Home,“ which depicts nesting eagles.

To schedule a group or school tour, please contact the Patriot Plaza Tour Coordinator at the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County: or call 941-365-5118 x305.

Teachers and Home-Schoolers can learn more about school trips, including curricular materials and lesson plans by visiting the Patriot Plaza EdExplorations listed on These field trips are focused on Grades 4-12. The Patterson Foundation funds transportation to Patriot Plaza for all schools in Charlotte, Desoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

What are the features of Patriot Plaza?

Patriot Plaza provides a place to conduct ceremonies honoring veterans and their families. The amphitheater includes an 80-foot-tall stainless steel flagpole, a rostrum that is large enough to accommodate a 55-piece orchestra, and a covered seating area for up to 2,800 people. Learn about Patriot Plaza’s 10 key features and see their locations shown on a map of the facility.

Who was on the team that designed, constructed, and donated Patriot Plaza?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, along with The Patterson Foundation, its volunteer construction and art advisory groups, and paid architecture, design, art, and legal professionals poured over countless hours of concepts and details to ensure Patriot Plaza’s excellence. The Patterson Foundation donated the facility to the National Cemetery Administration and has endowed its upkeep for future generations.

The Patterson Foundation Construction Team

Volunteer Advisors

  • Construction Advisory Group of industry experts
    • Billy Springer
    • Cliff Truitt
    • John Peshkin
    • Shawn McIntyre
  • Art Advisory Group of industry experts
    • Kenny Irby
    • Robin Nigh
    • Mark Ormond

What artwork is featured at Patriot Plaza?

The art installations at Patriot Plaza are some of the space's most inspiring and touching features:
  • “Testimonies” by Larry Kirkland
  • “Witness to Mission” by Larry Kirkland and Kenny Irby
  • “Home” by Ann Hirsch
  • “Guardian Eagles” by Pablo Eduardo
  • “Night to Day, Here and Away” by Ellen Driscoll
  • “Star Map” fabricated by Creative Edge Master Shop

See photos and learn about these six art installations and the artists.

With a goal to preserve memory through art, the installations honor the men and women who serve and their families, while communicating their stories to future generations.

Who can I contact about the Patriot Plaza amphitheater?

For all inquiries, contact Patriot Plaza initiative lead Victoria Finley:
Watch the Patriot Plaza Community Dedication held on June 28, 2014.
(total time: 1 hour 28 minutes)

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