Tucked behind the Florence Civic Center is a pretty little park with monumental significance for all patriots. The Florence Veterans Park is a 6-acre tribute to those Americans who gave back to their country through military service. Dedicated in 2008, it has been a work in progress and stands as one of South Carolina’s most poignant reminders of the myriad sacrifices made by members of the armed forces and their families.
Take a meditative stroll along the beautifully landscaped, interconnected walkways of the park, each appointed with memorials representing US wars of the 20th century. Every branch of the military is honored, as well, with some displays offering seating for quiet reflection. Whether you go solo or make it a family affair, you’ll find the experience moving and educational.
But the most stunning aspect of this thoughtfully planned project are the works of internationally renowned sculptor, Alex Palkovich, who calls Florence home. Central to the park is a 30-foot granite obelisk with a life-size bronze bald eagle set majestically at its pinnacle – an inspiring and patriotic appointment by the artist. The monument was recognized in 2009 by the American Institute of Commemorative Art as a distinguished public civic memorial.
Admire the intricate detail of a Boykin Spaniel frozen in mid-run to greet his master – a returning soldier embracing his joyful wife and child. This sculptural narrative titled “Home Safe” looms in the midst of a trellis garden and is sure to bring a tear or two to the eye. And do expect to take pause when you happen upon the sculpture “Alone with Memories,” a mournful tribute to the losses experienced by military families. Set in front of the water wall, this rendering of a woman sitting with a folded American flag on her knee is bound to give you a lump in the throat.
Other features that make this park a standout are an amphitheater with commemorative flags, cascading “Walls of Honor” engraved with names of locals who served in the armed forces, and a steel wall emblazoned with the “Oath of Enlistment.” And don’t miss the stunning “9/11” memorial made from granite sourced from the Pentagon wreckage.
The city owned and operated park is within easy access of both Interstates 20 and 95, with several lodging, shopping and dining options within close proximity. It opens one hour before sunrise and closes one hour past sunset.