“We want our national cemeteries to be shrines, shrines that really demonstrate the care of our American people for our veterans.” VA Secretary Bob McDonald believes the Sarasota National Cemetery is such a showcase, or shrine, with its Patriot Plaza Amphitheater and numerous art installations worth $12 million, all privately funded by the Patterson Foundation based in Sarasota.
“They have done an outstanding job choosing the artwork in that facility,” McDonald said. “There are photographs- for me as veteran, an airborne ranger, that capture many of the situations I’ve been in.”
The Patterson Foundation funded Patriot Plaza and the public art to create a place for “deep experience” at the Sarasota National Cemetery, said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of the Patterson Foundation.
“By having Patriot Plaza, those who come to visit family, those who come now to visit the art, they will each have their own private time and space for reflection and experiencing and affirming why we live in the greatest country on the globe,” Jacobs said.
The Patterson Foundation partnership with NCA is the first of its kind among the 131 cemeteries run by the VA. Jacobs hopes Sarasota’s Patriot Plaza will serve as a model for others to follow.