Memorial to rely on ‘patriotic’ Ranch

LAKEWOOD RANCH — U.S. Army Capt. Clarence Montague, an Army recruiter from Sarasota, told a crowd at San Marco Plaza that Lakewood Ranch is one of the most patriotic areas he’s ever visited.

“Whenever I am out here, the reception I get is amazing,” Montague said.

Perhaps the apparent patriotism of the area is one reason why the developers of the proposed $1.4 million Veterans Memorial Park behind Country Pancake and Restaurant in San Marco Plaza feel optimistic.

Montague was one of a handful of speakers who addressed about 75 during a Friday morning press conference to officially kick off the project.

The memorial park will require raising about $1.5 million through private, corporate and institutional donations, park organizers said.

A highlight for many at the event was the precision work of the color guard by five students from the Sarasota Military Academy.

Raven McKie played taps for those who have died defending America.

Seth Kenny, Jessica Barroso, Guiseppe Fricano and Luke Moeckel brought in the colors.

One of the speakers and committee members was Richard Allen, the Sarasota architect who designed San Marco Plaza.

Allen, who has now designed the new park, described how, when visitors enter the proposed memorial they will first come upon a display of five flags representing the branches of U.S. military service.

“Then, this grassy area that you are all sitting near will be replaced with a brick paver piazza,” Allen said.

A low memorial wall on the piazza will hold black granite plaques to honor those Americans who have served or are serving, Allen said.

The committee putting the project together is hoping to get permission to put “dancing” waters, also known as liquid fireworks, in the lake adjacent to the San Marco property.

U.S. Army veteran and local Realtor David Neff, Marine Corps veteran Delbert “Del” Hyland, Bradenton’s Pam Rice, composer and pianist Robert Moffa, William Wallace of the Caledonian Club and Allen comprise the committee.

The project has gotten support from residents from The Windsor opposite San Marco Plaza.

“What’s planned is very nice,” said the Windsor’s John DeForge, a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Army infantry.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.