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Historical Society to take over care of veterans’ marker on 5th Street

There’s a little-known memorial in Boca Grande that is about to get some much-needed love and care. It is the Veterans’ Memorial at the corner of Gilchrist and 5th St., by the entrance to The Gasparilla Inn’s Beach Club parking lot. 

There is a flagpole and flags there, but the memorial plaque is gone from the white monument. 

While it is currently unmarked, that is about to change with some help from the Boca Grande Historical Society, Lee County and other organizations that feel there should be an upgrade to the marker. 

Boca Grande Historical Society’s Executive Director Crystal Diff said details are still under wraps, since they are being finalized, but an official dedication is being planned for Veterans Day. 

According to Lee County Communication Director Betsy Clayton, our local county employees will be maintaining the marker. Work on the monument and surrounding area will include repairs to the actual monument (which is made of cast bronze attached to a concrete base); removal of four damaged cabbage palms; and the removal of saw palmettos inside the monument area.

It will also include cleaning up the monument area and installing solar lighting. 

The history for the memorial is vague. We have it narrowed down between 1950 – 1953 when it was erected by the Boca Grande Woman’s Club, but it was originally honoring the island’s men and women who served during WWII. We found an article from October of 1953 where two young men from the island (who we shall not name because their families still live here) tore up the plantings around the memorial because they were intoxicated and “their names weren’t on the plaque, even though they had served.”

We also know that Nell Kuhl and others from the Woman’s Club performed upkeep on the memorial for many years.

The monument in the 1970s.