By Jennifer Silverstein
With Veterans Day still fresh in the minds of all Americans, including those in Hillsborough County and the greater Brandon area, the Hillsborough County Veterans Memorial Park and Museum and the museum committee recently held a ground breaking ceremony to celebrate the beginning of the master renovation plan.The current Veterans Memorial Park sits on 35 acres on the corner of U.S. Hwy. 301 and the Tampa By-Pass Canal. Last year, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) awarded the park and museum $2.5 million, which was originally to be used for a sports complex. According to the Chairman of the Museum Committee and President of the Hillsborough County Veterans Council, David Braun, the master plan for the park expansion will be done in seven phases, beginning with the installation of a new entryway and signage, overall road and running service infrastructure and an icon inside the park. The icon final design will be decided on Monday, December 14 at the Veterans Council meeting and will have the phrase, “The price of freedom is visible here,” inscribed on it. During the fourth phase of the expansion, observation decks and what is being called the “freedom trail” will be constructed, followed by the exhibits and war memorials, including the 12 Theaters of War, beginning with the Seminole Indian War, and going all the way through today’s Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Volunteers and ideas are still needed for the 12 Theaters of War. “We need people to jump on board,” Braun said. If anyone would like to volunteer or has an idea, they can contact him directly at 310-8513 or call the Veterans Museum at 744-5502. The Vietnam veterans in the Tampa Bay area are also selling engraved bricks to be placed in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza, which will be used to create a walkway with two helicopters and a Jeep from the Vietnam era on either side of it. Four-inch by 8-inch bricks with three lines of text and 15 characters per line will cost $50. The same sized brick with two lines of text and a logo costs $50 and an 8-inch by 8-inch brick with three lines of text and a logo will run you $100. “And bricks you buy together will stay together,” Braun assured. To purchase a brick, visit www.hcmemorials.com.