Honoring Our Veterans in Merritt Island Florida

Minuteman statue and cannon at Veterans Memorial Park
Merritt Island Veterans’ Memorial Park
Veterans Memorial with military jeep in the background
Monuments and Motorcars

The Importance of Honoring Our Veterans

Honoring our veterans is a tradition that many people do on certain holidays at specific times of the year. But many feel it’s important to include paying homage to those who have served into our routines throughout the year. The start of a new year is a good time to consider these goals and how we can fulfill them. Places like Merritt Island’s Veterans Memorial Park provide an excellent opportunity to relax and reflect on the contribution that our veterans have made in preserving the freedoms of our homeland and those of our allies. Whenever you plan a visit to a park, you may want to consider visiting a veterans’ park such as this one. Consequently, the experience is likely to be very rewarding.

As former President Ronald Reagan has said, “Our hearts and thoughts turn to all the Nation’s veterans. Let us reflect on the great achievements of those whose sacrifices preserved our freedom and our way of life. With a spirit of pride and gratitude, let us recall their heroic accomplishments and thank them for their unselfish devotion to duty.” (reaganlibrary.gov). And specifically to the Marines he remarked, “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in this world. The Marines don’t have that problem” (marines.mil). Indeed, the difference veterans have made for our country and in our lives is immense.

Eagle memorial statue with military helicopter in the background
The Eagle and the Minuteman

Strength and Freedom

Many moving monuments dedicated to our veterans who served in wars from the American Revolutionary War in 1776 to the present are thoughtfully displayed throughout the park. This monument to those who served in the Revolutionary War (pictured above) is “Dedicated to all our patriot ancestors who sacrificed their lives, families and fortunes to secure our freedom.” The monument is topped by the statue of a bald eagle, and a Minuteman is inscribed on the front.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the American Bald Eagle has been the national bird since 1782. Former President John F. Kennedy voiced his appreciation for this choice: “The Founding Fathers made an appropriate choice when they selected the bald eagle as the emblem of the nation. The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolizes the strength and freedom of America” [va.gov (PDF)]. Given the strength, courage, and dedication to preserving our freedom that our veterans exhibit, the eagle is indeed a fitting symbol for our country and for such a monument.

U.S. army tank
Tactical Tanks

Tanks for the Memories

The Merritt Island Veterans Park is home to an impressive collection of historic military air and land vehicles. Dwight D. Eisenhower has said, “Guns and tanks and planes are nothing unless there is a solid spirit, a solid heart, and great productiveness behind it” (eisenhowerlibrary.gov). While this is undeniably true, the equipment used by the military has played a vital role in our military history. The park satisfies the nostalgia surrounding this critical equipment that both serves and protects our armed forces.

Many historic vehicles are punctuated around the park, including this M41 Walker Bulldog American light tank (pictured above). The placard informs the visitor of the illustrious history of this vehicle. This impressive tank replaced the M24 Chaffee Tank used in WWII and was used for nine years by South Vietnam. It was produced between 1951-1954 in Cleveland, Ohio by the Cadillac Motor Car Division of General Motors. Further, it houses a crew of four soldiers. These tanks have served worldwide in 30 countries, including engaging T-34s during the Bay of Pigs. All of the air and land vehicles displayed throughout the park give a detailed history that is both educational and fascinating.

U.S. Navy aircraft
Awesome Aircraft

Flying for Freedom

In addition to land vehicles, the park houses multiple intriguing aircraft. This A-7E Corsair II Carrier-Based Attack Bomber (pictured above) flew at a maximum speed of 693 miles per hour at sea level. Six wing stations provided a combined maximum load of up to 10,000 lb. of bombs, rockets, or AGMs (air-to-ground). Its tactical range was 490 miles. The crew consisted of a pilot only, and 535 of these aircraft were produced.

The U.S. Navy describes the distinguished history of the A-7E Corsair II: “The A-7E flew its first combat missions over Vietnam in May 1970… Following the end of the Vietnam War, the A-7E remained a mainstay on carrier flight decks, called into combat action throughout the 1980s in Grenada, Lebanon, Libya, and Panama. By the time Navy carriers launched their first strikes into Iraq and Kuwait as part of Operation Desert Storm in January 1991, only two A-7E squadrons remained… It marked the final deployment of the venerable Corsair II, whose beginning and end came in the face of enemy fire.” (history.navy.mil).

Memorial to the dogs who have served our military
Dutiful Dogs

Canine Companions

Dogs are perhaps not only “man’s best friend,” but also the military’s best friend… According to the Department of Defense, “These are highly skilled warriors, trained by the best to serve alongside them… about 1,600 military working dogs [currently] help keep the nation safe” (defense.gov). This statue is “Dedicated to war dogs and their handlers, past, present, & future, your deeds and sacrifices will always be remembered.”

The front placard reads, “During our nation’s military history, ten of thousands of war dogs served during WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. They continue to serve around the world. American war dogs have a legendary history of bravery and courage on foreign fields of battle, saving countless American lives.” Interestingly, according to the U.S. Army, “Every military working dog is an NCO – in tradition at least. Some say the custom was to prevent handlers from mistreating their dogs; hence, a dog is always one rank higher than its handler” (army.mil).

U.S. Army jeep
Reliable Transportation

Planning Your Visit

In conclusion, Veterans’ Memorial Center in Merritt Island, Florida is free to visitors, including the park, museum, and library. Operating hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm and Sunday noon to 4:00pm (these hours may change over time or during holidays – please confirm before visiting). Not in the area? There are other parks like this throughout the country. So perhaps there is one near you.

Entrance to the museum at Veterans Memorial Park with military helicopter
Veterans’ Memorial Center Museum

At Global Dimensions, honoring our veterans is of paramount importance to us. Our CEO, Chris Newton, has a distinguished career as a seasoned Chief Intelligence Analyst in the U.S. Army. Many other veterans are currently working at Global Dimensions as well. Read about some of our veteran employees in our blog post “Pride in Our Veterans at Global Dimensions” here. To all who have served, you have our unending gratitude.

by Heather Longfellow

Honoring Military Moms

Mother of soldier praying
Reflecting on absence

No Military Without Moms

Active duty military members and veterans display tremendous courage, dedication, patriotism, and mental and physical fortitude. But there are unsung heroes residing in their shadows that I want to honor today: moms of military members. Their service and sacrifice to their children in the military, their military, and their country merits remembering and honoring. There are no soldiers, airmen, or sailors – and no military – without them.

The Profound Challenges of Military Moms

As a mother of two sets of twins, I can certainly attest to the challenges faced by mothers – all mothers. Raising children the right way so that they evolve and grow into well-rounded, responsible adults who lead lives of integrity is perhaps the hardest, yet most rewarding duty a person can have. And as the mother of a U.S. Army soldier, I can attest to the unique and particularly profound challenges of being a military mom. This role is one that is constantly testing your perseverance, and one that is ever-reminding you of what’s truly most important in life – to never take your loved ones for granted.

A New Chapter

When my son wanted to discuss his interest in joining the Army, I had conflicted feelings. It was a lot to sort through in my mind. I had so many burning questions. Would he stay safe? Would he be happy? How would he adjust to this new life? How would I adjust? Would he survive Boot Camp? Above all of these feelings and considerations, however, I was proud of him because of what it means to serve your country in the military. I was proud of his desire to serve alongside other men and women who exemplify the traits of courage, dedication, and selflessness that are required to serve in the military.

Never Asked for “Easy”

My son followed his ambition, and I encouraged him to do what was right for him. Fast forward a few years, and my son is enjoying a successful career in the Army. Turns out, it really was the right choice for him. It has certainly not been easy, but given the traits that lead someone to join the military in the first place, is someone like that really ever seeking “easy?” My son has no regrets and has gained very valuable career and life experience that will serve his future well.

Serving with Honor

Being the mother of a military member often means missing out on holidays and family celebrations with your son(s) or daughter(s). It can mean rarely seeing the children you raised day-in and day-out for so long. Most challenging of all, it can mean worry and anxiety over your child’s safety and/or well-being – particularly in times of military engagement overseas. This may be especially true if your son(s) or daughter(s) is not able, for security or communication restraint reasons, to divulge the details of what they are doing or where they are. It takes great strength and perseverance to be the mom of someone serving in the military. Moms must be strong for their sons and daughters of whom they are so proud. And those who serve honor the moms who raised them by serving their country with honor.

All Grown Up Now

As any mother knows, they grow up so fast… This may be more true than ever when your son or daughter joins the military. Your child is fully embracing adulthood, with the weight of responsibility, discipline, work ethic, and commitment that come from experience in the military. Despite that, they’ll always be our babies, regardless of their chronological age. It will always be tough to watch them embark on this exciting journey alone. When we do see them, we cherish that time more than we ever could have envisioned. The impact of the distance and concerns moms have, which can be amplified when their child is in the military, are profoundly felt.

Seeking Support

Are you the mom of a military member (or members) who is wondering where to turn for support? “Today’s Military” offers a wealth of links to support resources for Moms with children serving in different branches of the military here. You are there for your children, now let others in the military community be there for you. Whether your child is in the Army, National Guard, Marines, Air Force, Navy, or Coast Guard, you will find tools to help you there.

Active-Duty Moms in the Military

I want to mention another group of moms who deserve recognition. They are the moms currently serving in the military who must endure so much time separated from their families in service to their country. Their sacrifice is tremendous, and we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. To all of you moms that are serving in the military, thank you so much for your service and sacrifice.

We are always mindful of the sacrifice active-duty military members and veterans have made in service to our great country and people. If you’d like to read more about some of the veterans working at Global Dimensions, you can check out our blog post here.

by Heather Longfellow