In the state of Florida, in the Indian River County lies a memorial. This memorial symbolizes the ultimate sacrifice that soldiers paid while defending this country. Thanks to the efforts of one man, the City of Vero Beach is home to the Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary, a memorial that reflects the honor given to the United States veterans.
After the end of World War II, the Intercoastal Waterway was
scheduled to be unearthed. However, one man had a different vision in his mind.
Mr. Alex MacWilliam Sr. was a member of the Florida Legislature and a veteran.
A highly decorated veteran of World War II, Mr. MacWilliam was twice wounded in
combat. He was a man that whole heartily agreed that “one man can make a
difference.” And that he did. Mr. MacWilliam was able to convince the Federal
Government to shift the already existing Vero Beach channel in order to make
room for an up to date draw bridge. With the surplus of material from
unearthing the waterway, one could construct Memorial Island.
On May 5, 1947 the island was procured by the City of Vero
Beach. Some year later in the early 1960’s it was dedicated under the name
Memorial Island Park. One of the first memorials sat on the island was
inscribed with the words “Lest We Forget.” The official dedication of the
island took place on May 10, 1964. Assorted memorials were installed on the island
that represented Purple Heart Veterans, Veterans of Pearl Harbor, POW/MIA’s as
well as WWII, Korean and Vietnam War memorials. At the same time, veterans came
together to help install other memorials on the island. Sixty markers were
placed under sixty trees to represent the Indian River soldiers whom perished
in the wars. Several committees have been formed in order to address the
placing of more memorials on the island. On July 6, 2004 the island was
officially renamed the Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary.
This memorial is adjacent to Riverside Park on the Barrier
Island, south of the Merrill Barber Bridge. Memorial Day ceremonies and
dedications take place on this island every year. While recreation activities
are not permitted, the city invites its citizens and visitors to come to the
island to not only pay homage to the veterans, but to use it as a quiet
peaceful place for thought. Thanks to Mr. MacWilliam this memorial will welcome
generations to come.