On February 23, 2019 at 10:00 am the Charlotte County Board of Commissioners will formally dedicate the William R. Gaines Jr. Veterans Memorial Park at 20499 Edgewater Drive, Port Charlotte, FL. All who wish to attend this dedication are welcome.
Located on a small peninsula jutting out into Charlotte Harbor, this 40 acre park is a community partnership designed to honor all our Veterans and First Responders. Formerly known as Sunrise Park, the Charlotte County Commission unanimously voted to rename the park the “William R. Gaines Jr. Veterans Memorial Park” in December of 2017.
William R. Gaines Jr., his wife, and family were residents of Charlotte County when he was killed in the Beirut Bombing on October 23, 1983 as one of the Marine peacekeepers just five days after turning 21. Bill wrote home with the following lines just a month prior to his death: “I believe in our mission here, I believe we belong here; this is a matter of principle, not politics or money or even lives. It’s the principle of freedom, of peace for the majority. If I die in the process, I feel that I would have died for a good reason.”
The goal of this park is to share the history of the Marines Navy, and Army Peacekeepers in Beirut along with how their sacrifice mirrors those of our First Responders. Highlighting the tie between our Veterans and First Responders in a place where families can come together will not just honor their service, but inspire others to serve.
This park currently has a kayak launch, tennis courts, bathroom facilities, and solar covered parking. Future amenities will include a large children's playground, splash pad, large covered pavillion, basketball courts, and nature trails.
A special highlight for the park will be the addition of the Beirut Peacekeepers Memorial Tower, scheduled for completion later this year. This three story, 45 foot tower will stand in the center of the park providing a spectacular view of Charlotte Harbor as well as a place to watch over those visiting the park. The tower will not only be a symbol designed to honor those who died in Beirut, it will also provide a timeline of major historical events from 1982-1984 to tell the story of the Marines’ involvement in the region.
This park and memorial tower are designed to provide those who visit with a place to enjoy the freedoms provided by those who sacrifice and serve others. Charlotte County is already a strong veteran friendly community, having recently built a ¾ replica of the Vietnam Memorial, a Military Heritage Museum about to open, and is a proud Purple Heart County.