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Underwater military memorial opens off Florida’s Gulf coast

August 7, 2019

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — A dozen concrete statues of U.S. service members have been placed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida as an underwater memorial.

The Tampa Bay Times reports dozens of divers, including veteran amputees, swam down 40 feet Monday as part of the Circle of Heroes’ opening ceremony.

The six-foot statues and monument bearing the bronze emblems of five military branches are meant to be a permanent fixture at Veteran’s Reef, several miles west of Clearwater. They honor the armed forces and provide a unique diving experience.

Former Congressman David Jolly’s nonprofit, Brighter Future Florida, led the fundraising to complete the memorial. It was designed by his uncle. Heyward Matthews, a professor of oceanography at St. Petersburg College.

Pinellas County provided $50,000, and Brighter Future Florida raised $150,000.

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Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.

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