Good news,  sometime around and currently planned for Veterans Day 2017 January a new Memorial for the fallen will be presented in the Florida City of Inverness.   The city has graciously provided the resources for a new city park located strategically in a high traffic area where it will be seen and experienced by all. 

It is close to the Florida National Cemetery located in Bushnell Florida, close to highways 41 and 44 near the government center building in a beautiful park.  

It is this proximity to the cemetery and an incredible supportive community of military retirees and avid supporters of the military that this town of Inverness is known for.

Note:  The Florida National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery located near the city of Bushnell in Sumter County, Florida. Administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, it encompasses 512.9 acres, and began interments in 1988.

Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran. 

Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial. 


In cooperation with the city of Inverness Florida, at the beginning of the year we will be unveiling a new park and Memorial to those who served in our most recent wars.  In the photo above our team met with City Manager Frank DiGiovanni, our organizations President Ellie Scarfone, Treasurer David Troup, and VP/Sec  Alan Jacobson unveils the statues we presented to the city for their new INFANTRY Memorial Park being built in the middle of town and accessible to all.  

Inverness is close to the Florida National Cemetery  Florida National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery located near the city of Bushnell in Sumter County, Florida.  Administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, it encompasses 512.9 acres, and began interments in 1988. 

Though I have been out of the service for fifty years I still remember the things that are important, Duty, Honor, Courage.

Few things change your life and make you grow up as much as doing a bit of military time.  I'll probably come under a hail of fire for this but I think mandatory service to your country is an essential part of the total development of the youthful citizen.  

Our kids today have a free ride compared to other countries in the world.  In some cities just graduating high school might be a challenge since in some areas 74% don't. That’s pathetic! That’s also a part of the recipe for racial disparity, have’s and have not’s, class warfare, criminal activity and that’s why we are losing our edge in the global competition. 

Service to our nation would avert many of the social problems the kids learn as they get the wrong kind of peer influence from the street. Nothing is as warm and friendly as a Drill Sergeant teaching table etiquette and proper military bearing to kids who just graduated the streets and dinning on Chipped Beef on Toast (SOS)  for the first time instead of McDonalds.

I used to compare a slap on the head to a FORD starter solenoid. If you owned aford had one and when the thing hung up, you hit it with a stick. The car started. Brains can sometimes work the same way as that starter.

I have had one CMS tell me that men are made from boys when the first close shot whizzes over their heads. I covered many military events. The military is steeped in tradition which means these events are generally very repetitious.  It carries tradition and meaning passed down through the generations the same way.  Oh, that bullet whizzing is a sound you never forget.

For thirty-seven plus years I have carried camera and pad and tried to tell the story of those forgotten.  Of all the changes that have taken place in the military, it the style of war that has changed the most.  In WWII the ratio of Killed In Action to Wounded was significantly higher than today.  It was a war of bombing, huge artillery battles, armies out in the open, massive troop movements and vulnerabilities.  

War today is different, it is illusive, deadly, with little distinction between combatants and civilians, unmarked enemies, no regard for women and children, they simply are numbers.  Torturing, beheadings, drownings, rape and murder are accepted and sometimes utilized under the guise of religion.  We call it terrorism, they call it Jihad.  

And getting back to the  numbers the Viet Cong started a trend in war that means if you wound someone severely enough it takes seven other soldiers out of action to save a life.  Currently the Middle East incursion and resultant Arab spring  the longest war in our history has cost us 7000+ lives and 52,000 wounded requiring in many cases lifetime medical support.  The numbers support the odds.  This is a tactic to break the will of the country in proceeding further.

By Nancy Kennedy

Sunday, May 29, 2016 at 5:53 pm 

Even before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the plans for a memorial to honor U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) troops who died serving their country were in the works.

Ellie Scarfone and Al Jacobson, members of the U.S. Central Command Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit, private citizens organization, unveil a set of bronze statues they are presenting to the city of Inverness to use in a permanent display on the grounds of the Inverness Government Center.

Designed and funded by the nonprofit, private citizens organization U.S. Central Command Memorial Foundation, it was to be at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.  They broke ground in 2003 and a set of bronze statues were commissioned and completed in 2005 — and then put in storage at a foundry in Colorado for 10 years.

Fast-forward 15 years and $1.2 million later and the memorial at MacDill is completed — but because of a number of reasons, including post-Sept. 11 security measures that restrict the public from easily entering the base, the project has been scrapped, as far as the foundation is concerned.   So, what to do with the bronze statues?  And what to do about the foundation’s desire to honor CENTCOM troops?

Enter the city of Inverness.  “After 10 years in storage — No. 1, the foundry wanted the statues moved, and No. 2, we’ve been trying to find a place that would embrace them and want to do something with them,” said Ellie Scarfone, president of the U.S. Central Command Memorial Foundation.

“Last year, I approached Frank DiGiovanni and asked if he would like to use them in the community. He and his team have embraced it and came up with a concept that I think will be well-appreciated and well-seen — I’m thrilled.”  Recently, Scarfone, fellow foundation board members David Troup and Al Jacobson and Inverness City Manager DiGiovanni met to unveil the statues and talk about their final destination on the grounds of the Inverness Government Center.

The statues, made by Colorado Springs-based sculptor Scott Stearman, depict two soldiers, modeled by actual soldiers from Fort Carson near Colorado Springs: Spc. Ontario Washington and Sgt. Amy Perkins.  The sculpture of Washington shows him kneeling to remember his fallen brethren, his eyes downcast and his expression stoic but pained.

“His boots are worn, his CamelBak is empty, he’s holding his gloves in resolve,” Scarfone said.  Perkins’ hand rests on Washington’s shoulder.   In the process of modeling for the sculpture, Perkins, a veteran of two tours in Iraq, revealed that she had 7-year-old twin daughters and a fiancé who lost his life in the line of duty.

“In her helmet — troops typically put photos of their loved ones in their helmet, so we have pictures of her twin daughters and a picture of her fiancé, who had just been killed,” Scarfone said.  The original concept was to have the two soldiers looking at a wall of names of those who had lost their lives in the Global War on Terror, but foundation members realized “the wall would never end.”

When the project began in 2001, the U.S. troops killed in the ongoing war numbered several hundred, Jacobson said. That number now nears 7,000, according to the Department of Defense; more than 52,000 troops have been wounded.

Instead, the figures are looking at a battlefield cross: the rifle, boots and helmet of a fallen brother or sister in arms arranged in a memorial to their life and service.  “The fact that these statues are taken from real life — it’s a very powerful statement,” Jacobson said.

The city plans to mount the statues in the plaza outside the government center in downtown Inverness, atop a granite platform illuminated in relief by uplighting.

“I’m humbled, moved, blown away,” DiGiovanni said at the unveiling. “This is an incredible presentation of the effects of war, and these are lifelike, real-life people brought from the battlefield to Inverness in a memorialized manner. This is incredibly impressive.”

“I had originally thought it should go to Liberty Park because the 9/11 memorial is there and it’s a larger, more open space,” Scarfone said. “But with the proposed changes to the area, this makes much better sense. It’s going to be very pretty. … Sometimes it’s wonderful that things don’t go the way we plan them, because now we get to have them here.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927, or via Twitter at @nancykchronicle.

©  Copyright 02-2017