‘Never forgotten’: New monument for fallen heroes unveiled outside Veterans Memorial Arena

A solemn ceremony unfolded downtown as a Jacksonville group revealed its latest tribute to American service members who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Despite the rainy weather, dozens gathered at the main entrance to the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena for the unveiling of the Fallen Soldiers Monument on Friday.

The memorial holds special significance for the family of Army Private First Class Timothy Seamans, who was killed in action at the age of 20 in 2005. The ceremony, marked by 21 taps, a flag presentation, and a prayer led by a former combat chaplain, aimed to keep the memories of fallen heroes alive.

The unveiling ceremony included remarks from Dave Seamans, emphasizing his son’s compassionate nature even in the midst of war. “He always would give a shirt off his back to anybody,” Seamans said, with his wife, daughter, and granddaughter by his side. “He loved his family. In Iraq, he held up a convoy to feed two sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, to a young Iraqi boy who was hungry on the side of the road. So that says it all right there.”

The Fallen Soldiers Monument, strategically placed outside the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena, serves as a poignant reminder not only of Timothy Seamans but also of the 1,700 other Jacksonville area residents who sacrificed their lives for the country. Every life mattered.

Jacksonville’s rich tradition of honoring veterans continues with this memorial, situated just a block away from the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Wall—the second-largest in the U.S., only behind Washington D.C.

Retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Gee Mercado highlighted the importance of such tributes with a flag ceremony. “Without us guys, the freedom we enjoy today, we wouldn’t have it,” he said. He encouraged passersby to acknowledge the sacrifices of service members by saluting the marble monument.

This installation, the 18th from the nonprofit Florida Fallen Heroes, is part of a series of monuments across schools in the area, funded by donations. Vystar Credit Union funded the latest Fallen Soldiers Monument, costing approximately $8,000.

Florida Fallen Heroes is already planning its next monument at Andrew Jackson High School next year. Those interested in contributing or getting involved can visit FloridaFallenHeroes.org.

“Never forgotten,” Seamans said about those who made the ultimate sacrifice. “Never forgotten. Lest they be forgotten.”

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