From the Collection of The Patterson Foundation
Sarasota National Cemetery
The east entrance to Patriot Plaza at Sarasota National Cemetery in Florida is a transitional space between the cemetery at large and the side of the ceremonial amphitheater dedicated to themes of family and community that honor military service.
The two curved walls at the east entrance open a concave space in the gateway, which is dramatically set apart from the ceremonial amphitheater. On the north portion of the wall, the viewer finds Ann Hirsch’s vision of “Home” depicted by a nest occupied by an adult American Bald Eagle and an eaglet.
The nest, like a human dwelling, is a “Home” where acts of everyday life occur. Here, the eagle, like a soldier, learns to protect “Home,” knowing that one day she or he may have to leave in order to protect freedoms.
Through national symbols and the values they evoke, many become one. All are included in the American Bald Eagle's embrace.The American Bald Eagle became our national symbol for its courage and loyalty to family. Bald Eagles build elaborate nests to which they return year after year to raise their young. While in their nests, parent eagles ball up their talons and walk on their knuckles to avoid accidentally injuring their young. They use their wings to shroud their food supply and protect their young from harm.
In the sculpture, the eagles perch at two eye levels, high and low, and the elder eagle teaches the eaglet this gesture of protection. The shrouds formed by the wings cup the area in front of the eagles' bodies, as the cradle architecture of the nest enfolds the eagles' space and the walls themselves enclose the sculpture.
The eagles' nest is a series of branches pared down to a design suggesting a boat and a cradle. The bronze branches are enveloped in the curvature of the wall and stand off the surface far enough that the rising and the setting of the southerly sun casts patterns of light and shadow on the wall behind the sculpture.
The south wall presents another nest motif, but here the nest is not occupied. The branches are interlaced with Abraham Lincoln’s call to action at the end of his second inaugural address: "…let us strive…to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan…”