A Brief History of Veterans Memorials in Tampa
And Hillsborough County
Dan Hall & Tom Fletcher
Hillsborough County and Tampa began paying tribute to war hero's at Fort Brooke.
What once was "Memorial Highway" went from Howard and Grand Central (now Kennedy) to Oldsmar. This highway once was a special road with moments of each end, but growth and other issues changed these moment locations.
The Howard Avenue part of the monument was moved to the American Legion Cemetery at 3910 W. Kennedy Blvd in Tampa.
The monument at the Oldsmar end was relocated to the Kennedy Blvd and Memorial Hwy intersection in the West Shore area. by the way, this monument has names of 106 World War I local veterans killed in action. These monuments were exclusively the work of the Tampa Rotary Club.
Another really unique memorial called the "Eternal Flame" was donated by the American Legion and it was placed years ago in the median of Ashley Street north of Kennedy. The flame and a bronze plaque were "extinguished" during the first energy crisis. Later the Parks and Recreation and Conservation Department requested it be removed and placed in storage. It remains in storage to this day.
The most unique "Memorial" of all which contains the names of about 700 Hillsborough County WWII casualties once stood on the grounds in front of the old Court House. When the downtown courthouse was razed in 1953, this small clapboard "Memorial Hut" was moved to Lutz, Florida where it remains today next to the Bicentennial War Memorial along U.S. 41. If it wasn't for the Hillsborough County BOCC and a group of Lutz residents, it might still be sitting next to the dumpster behind the Library in Lutz. In 1996, the BOCC offered financial help to relocate the "Hut" to a more prominent location. The "Hut" is open to the public four times a year because the park is sits in is maintained by volunteers and they can't provide access on a routine basis.
Over a decade ago, a site was established and funds allocated for development of a Veterans Park. The original site selected was located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Eisenhower and Courtney Campbell Causeway. Before the plans could be completed, this site was identified for some type of future "Toll Road" (now the Veterans Expressway) so the Veterans Park site was moved to Tesawee Park, north of the Cross Channel Canal, west of U.S. 301. The name was eventually changed to the Veterans Memorial Park and Museum and the building was constructed to serve as a museum to deiplay military artifacts and to act as a meeting place for small groups. The park is now the location of a beautiful monument called the "Freedom Memorial" which was erected to honor all members of the military, both living and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.