For the Red, White and Brave

Community Foundation

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY MAR 28, 2018

On this day last March, President Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, passed with unanimous consent. The law establishes every March 29th as the official National Vietnam War Veterans Day, stating that the flag of the United States be raised to thank and honor Vietnam veterans for their service and sacrifice. The VIetnam War holds the dubious distinction as arguably the most controversial war in our nation's history, as well as the longest—with over 15 years of military involvement. At the height of the war, the scene on home soil grew ugly with mass public anger for the U.S. government’s escalating role. A social movement immersed over several years, inevitably shaping the vigorous and polarizing debate for our involvement. The U.S. admits its first defeat, and President Nixon withdrew the last remaining American troops in 1973. But upon their return from duty overseas, troops failed to receive a welcome home—instead unjustly shamed, scorned and ridiculed by protesters.

Fast forward to today, the recent presidential proclamation recognizes the 50th Anniversary of the war, and expresses what the U.S. has learned from our Vietnam veterans’ experience—replacing the negative stigma of Vietnam with renewed gratitude for the role of our nation’s military. Americans across the country will unite in national solidarity tomorrow to publicly honor these unsung soldiers, marking the second annual observance of National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Dialing closer to home, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and Manatee Community Foundation partner with Tidewell Hospice, who have been caring for our local veterans and their families with end-of-life services for almost 40 years. Together, they’ll host a regional celebration called “Welcome Home, Southwest Florida” at Patriot Plaza here in Sarasota. Vietnam veterans in attendance will receive a special 50th Anniversary commemorative pin, “A Lasting Memento of the Nation’s Thanks!” issued by the U.S. State Department. The event will feature keynote speaker General Hugh Shelton, who received a Bronze Star for his service, as well as Secretary for Veteran Affairs for Memorial Affairs, Randy Reeves presenting. With hundreds of these events celebrated throughout the country on this dedicated holiday, Tidewell Hospice, Community Foundation of Sarasota County and Manatee Community Foundation are proud to marshal their combined resources to have these special guest officials here to speak and host a ceremony of this magnitude for our community.

Patriot Plaza, a 2,800-seat ceremonial amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery, features commissioned art installations honoring veterans, inspiring patriotism and embracing freedom for generations to come. Dedicated and donated to the National Cemetery Administration by The Patterson Foundation, it strongly promotes burial services for eligible veterans and their family members. The Patterson Foundation worked closely with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration on the construction of Patriot Plaza, collaborating with the agency to design its beautiful facilities, and fully funding it to completion. The foundation’s invested donation to Patriot Plaza is meant to not only recognize the service of all veterans, including the Patterson family’s history of military service, but also strengthen the way our local region honors those who served in our nation’s armed forces. The $12 million space is an exemplary model for other national cemeteries as it stands as a symbol of peace and reflection, and proudly exists for our community to decorate the heroes with unfathomable valor in their final resting place—especially the 9 million military personnel on active duty during the Vietnam Era and the 2.7 million Americans who served our country in the Vietnam War. Of those combat troops still living, approximately 500,000 reside in Florida—

We thank you for your service.

“Welcome Home, Southwest Florida” begins at 9:30am and is free to the public thanks to Tidewell, the Community Foundations, and in-kind support from Military Officers of America Association, Sarasota Chapter and AC Vietnam Brotherhood.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is proud to partner with SRQ Media Group to highlight stories about community impact powered by philanthropy in our region, thanks to the support of donors and our local nonprofit partners. The Community Foundation is a public charity founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council as a resource for caring individuals and the causes they support, enabling them to make a charitable impact on the community. For more information, visit www.CFSarasota.org

The Patriot Plaza, 9810 State Rd. 72, Sarasota, 941-922-7200

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