The Florence Veterans Park Committee and the City of Florence held the official opening and dedication ceremony for the Florence Veterans Park on November 11, 2008. Members from various branches of the military, both active and retired, took part in the opening ceremonies through the presentation of the colors, the pledge of allegiance, the invocation and the raising of the individual branch flags. The keynote speaker for the event was Columbia native Major General (R) Charles F. Bolden, Jr. USMC. Following his remarks, Mayor Frank Willis and Alex Palkovich (sculptor) unveiled the Parks center obelisk and bronze eagle followed by Committee Co-Chairs Rick Walden and Tom Marschel, both US Army Viet Nam veterans, unveiling of the Wall of Honor.
The City of Florence contracted local construction firm Florence Builders for the construction of the park on approximately 6 acres of land. The site is comprised of land donated for the park by the estate of the late R.P. Byrd and by World War II veteran and former Florence representative in the S.C. State House of Representatives Edward L. Young. The project was first announced by former Florence Mayor Frank Willis in June 2005.
The $2 million project cost for the park, which is adjacent to the Florence Civic Center, was funded through the City’s hospitality funds. Besides the center obelisk and the Wall of Honor, the park features also include an amphitheater, a water wall with pool, a steel wall with the oath of enlistment and a landscaped circular trellis area. These areas, along with several other areas surrounded by pathways or landscaping, will provide and allow for the future placement of monuments, memorials and plaques. Funding for the monuments and plaques is being raised through private donations and the sale of plaques for the Wall of Honor by the Veterans Park Committee. These plaques are to recognize or remember those who are serving or have served in our armed services. Brochures/Applications, for those interested in purchasing a plaque for the Wall of Honor are available at the City of Florence Parks & Beautification Department, the Chamber of Commerce and Brown Memorial.
The park features monuments and memorials to the wars of the 20th century, including World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the first Persian Gulf War, as well as an amphitheater surrounded by commemorative flags. In addition, the park has continued its growth by adding a monument to each branch of the armed services.
Policies and procedures for use of the park, monument placement in the park and events in the park are administered by the Veterans Park Committee of the Parks and Beautification Commission. For more information please contact the City of Florence Parks and Recreation Department located at 513 Barnes Street or contact the office by phone at 665–3253.