The Pensacola area is steeped in military tradition, so it’s only fitting that residents would pay homage to years of sacrifice with a picturesque park. Dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives in defense of our nation, Veterans Memorial Park offers a peaceful space for respite and reflection.
Every aspect of this park is inspiring — including its history. The memorial was originally inspired by the temporary installation known as the Moving Wall, which famously came to Pensacola in 1987. For several days, the region’s most admired Vietnam veterans stood guard over this moving memorial. When it departed, they decided that a permanent structure should take its place. This desire launched a concerted effort by the Vietnam Veterans of Northwest Florida, which raised the necessary funds through 5K races, softball tournaments, garage sales, and a variety of other events.
Finally, in 1992, the Pensacola City Council set aside over five acres and dedicated what is now known as Wall South. Although easily the best known of the region’s memorials, this is just one of several monuments worth visiting at Veterans Memorial Park. Since opening, the park has added several additional memorials. Feel free to browse these monuments at your own pace as you reflect on the many sacrifices made not only by Pensacola residents, but also by their families — and by veterans across the nation.
A few of our favorite monuments include the following:
Although it courted some controversy at the time of its construction, Wall South remains the park’s most notable structure. While it may not achieve the full scope of the original Vietnam Memorial, it remains an inspiring and deeply touching monument. As with the original, it features the names of tens of thousands of dead and missing. Veterans Memorial Park visitors find themselves instantly drawn to this wall — especially those who have never had the opportunity to visit the Washington, D.C. version.
World War I Monument
Originally located on Garden Street, this marble structure was moved by the Vietnam Veterans of Northwest Florida to its present location. The monument offers an important reminder of the sacrifices of U.S. soldiers in World War I, especially now that there are no living veterans to remind us in person.
World War II Monument
Dedicated in November 2002, this monument was designed in hopes of conveying the broad scope of our nation’s efforts in World War II. It features a white marble Roman numeral II and a bronze V to represent victory. Bronze figures surrounding the memorial represent the men and women who bravely served.
Korean War Monument
Located near the park’s World War II memorial, this beautiful oval-shaped monument contains a tall granite plaque highlighting Korea’s geography and details about the war. Bronze figures near the granite plaque depict a platoon commander and a radio operator.
Monument to Children
This memorial may not be as grand as those highlighted above, but it’s just as likely to spark emotion. It features a small child wearing a combat helmet as she awaits her parent’s return. The statue represents the sacrifice of children across the nation as they deal with the pain of their parents’ deployments.
Set aside plenty of time to take in the beauty of Veterans Memorial Park as you contemplate the sacrifices and bravery of generations of soldiers and their families. You will emerge with a renewed sense of gratitude.
-Veterans Memorial Park hosts the Heroes Among Us Speaker Series, which highlights some of the area’s most inspiring figures. These talks begin promptly at 6 pm on select Thursdays. Water and light refreshments are typically provided, but you’ll want to bring blankets or chairs to ensure comfortable seating. In the event of rain, the series will be relocated to the nearby Rosie’s at Seville Quarter.
-Feel free to stop by the Veterans Memorial Park Facebook page, where you can learn more about ongoing efforts to raise funds for the park. The park’s Facebook page also offers plenty of information about upcoming events.
-To learn more about the history of the park, check out the documentary produced by local PBS station WSRE.