The Vietnam Veterans Memorial to move to Cape Coral
A monument dedicated to local veterans who lost their lives in the Vietnam War will join a myriad of other military memorials in Cape Coral.
The Veterans Midpoint Memorial Charitable Trust, Inc. has announced the Southwest Florida Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be relocated from Fort Myers to Cape Coral’s Eco Park Veteran’s Area. According to Cape Coral officials, the addition of the monument to Eco Park will be on the agenda in a City Council meeting in early December.
The monument was originally dedicated in 2008 by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 594 on McGregor Boulevard at Colonial Boulevard, just over the bridge. It represents 80 veterans killed in action from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties.
“For the veterans who are still here, we have the burden of those 80 souls on our shoulders — those names from the five counties,” said memorial trust president and Vietnam veteran Gary Bowler. “We want to do the honorable thing so that they’re not forgotten.”
According to the trust, proposals from road improvements or highway expansions threaten the limited parking and accessibility at the current site.
“It’s been great over there but, unfortunately, nothing remains the same,” Bowler said. “We took it upon ourselves and knew it was time to move it.”
Relocation efforts have been in the works for nearly a year and were finally made possible by Dr. Carol Rae Culliton of the Gunterberg Charitable Foundation, who recently founded “Brotherhood of Heroes” — Cape Coral’s newest military museum and community resource center set to open on Veterans Day.
“Carol has stepped up to help us with other projects at Eco Park and is really invested in our community here,” Bowler said. “I can’t praise her enough.”
The Bowlers said the Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department offered a spot in the same area as the renowned Felix de Weldon Iwo Jima Statue, Purple Heart Monument, Iraq monument, and others.
“We’re grateful to the city of Cape Coral and the Parks and Recreation Department who continue to support us veterans, and that’s a great thing,” Bowler said.
Bowler said they hope to locate the Vietnam Memorial on the west end of the area between the large electronic sign and Blue Star Memorial Highway marker.
“We’ll have two great anchors for the park in the Iwo Jima monument and now the Vietnam monument to really stand out,” Bowler said.
As a Vietnam veteran, Bowler knows their numbers are dwindling and felt it was important to keep alive the memory of those lost, especially for the families. Eco Park’s Veteran Area was a perfect fit.
“There’s comfort in knowing it will be in a great place,” he said. “We put a lot of effort into it originally and it’s going to be that much better in Cape Coral at the Veterans Area at Eco Park.”
Donations are needed for site work, brickwork, benches, sidewalks and landscaping — as fundraising events have been nixed due to coronavirus.
The area provides parking, security and a large pavilion for ceremonies.
Groundbreaking dates are to be announced after council approval, with a dedication hopefully set for March 27, 2021, the weekend of Vietnam Veterans Day.
Tax deductible donations can be sent to: VMMCT, PO Box 153020, Cape Coral, FL 33915 or go to any Fifth Third Bank to make your donation to The Veterans Midpoint Memorial Charitable Trust Account.
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