Veterans memorial at Eco Park refurnished
Two local businesses with military ties provided materials and labor to solve a problem at the Iraq War Heroes Monument at the Eco Park Veterans Area.
Flagstone Pavers donated 800 square feet of pavers for the project and Covering the Cape, Inc., donated the labor to complete the transformation.
“I called everywhere to get the pavers installed,” said Veterans Midpoint Memorial Charitable Trust president Gary Bowler. “Places were very busy to take on a relatively small job.”
Finally, Bowler contacted Donna Harbin at Covering the Cape and she accepted the task.
“It was a no-brainer,” said Harbin. “You have to give something back to the community. If they need me I’m always willing to help.”
It’s the first time Harbin has become involved for veterans. It was important to her because she has two stepsons serving in the Navy. Jordon Gileski is stationed in Florida while Chad Gileski is stationed in Virginia. Both joined the service at the same time, she said.
Harbin’s two-man crew spent two days at the memorial tearing out the old pavers and installing the new ones.
According to Bowler, the original pavers did not hold up to the wear and tear of the weather and foot traffic. They were white to match the marble of the memorial star, but turned black from mold and dirt and were hard to keep clean. The situation was made worse by a water drainage problem at the site.
“The city generously put gutters and downspouts on the pavilion for us a few months ago,” said Bowler. “Now all the pavers at the Veterans Area match. Flagstone had donated all the pavers at the park and they were still in a giving mood. We’ve had a lot of private funds, donations and gifts in kind, like labor. If not for the giving, the work would not get done.”
Rick Stults, the Florida sales manager for Flagstone based in Brooksville, lives in Cape Coral and is surrounded by a military family. Though Stults did not serve, both of his brothers and others in his family did. His daughter, Sarah Stults, has 13 years of service in the Air Force as a Med Tech.
“We’ve donated all the pavers at the park over the years, that whole block from one end to the other, and we are happy to do it,” said Stults. “We donated the first pavers back in 2000-01, which was just before my daughter went in.”
That was soon after the Iwo Jima Statue was relocated to the park in 1997. It has been refurbished twice since. Other memorials soon followed, all overseen by the Veterans Trust.
First came the Flag Array Plaza near the statue and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Stone. The memorial area also includes an All Korean War Memorial with associated stones for the Chosen Few and the Submarine Anchor. The Tribute to a Soldier statue depicting a soldier and little boy saluting the flag stands near the new Veterans Pavilion Memorial with the Welcome Home Troops sign on the other side of the pavilion. The Iraq War Monument is the most recent addition to the park.
“There was no organized veterans group to work with,” said Bowler. “Those guys are still relatively young, but down the road they may start coming forward. The Vietnam veterans helped raise the money for the Iraq memorial.”
Bowler’s group has worked with various veterans groups that presented a concept of what they wanted to do and usually some money in place. The city helps out with the permitting process.
“Patriotism is alive and well and everyone can see that when they come across that bridge to Cape Coral,” said Bowler.