To develop a World Class Park and Museum complex that supports and remembers the sacrifice and valor of the members of the Armed Forces from Hillsborough County, Florida.
The mission of the VMPMC is to facilitate the enhancement, expansion and support of the Hillsborough County Veterans’ Memorial Park and Museum. To accomplish this mission the committee will:
- Promote a favorable and accurate image of and respect for the Armed Forces of the United States, with a focus on the Hillsborough County, Florida, Veterans.
- Facilitate the support for the construction and maintenance of fitting monuments and museum, honoring all our County’s military Veterans who have served the cause of freedom.
- Assist with the development of quality exhibits and program events at the museum and park, as well as events that the museum committee may support or take part in outside of the museum and park.
- Assist in the orderly growth and future vision of a Master Plan.
- Develop and recommend policy regarding the acquisition, display (interior and exterior) inventory, access, disposal, temporary displays, displays on loan and ownership of park and museum exhibits.
- Facilitate a continuous and accurate inventory of all assets.
- Develop and recommend policy regarding relationships between the VMPMC and county necessary for proper fulfillment of the mission.
VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK HISTORY
Plans back in the early 1980’s were in progress to develop a Veterans Park near Tampa International Airport but the project was eventually abandoned to make room for a “Toll Road”. This was a significant set-back for local veteran advocates but it actually set the stage for the extraordinary success of what is now one of the most historically significant places to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States.
Veterans Memorial Park was resurrected on a small property known as “Tis-A-Wee Day Use Park and Bike Path” in eastern unincorporated Hillsborough County along the Cross Channel Canal. The property was previously part of land managed by Southwest Florida Water Management District. Through various agreements with county government the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners initiated a project on June 4, 1986 along with the approval of $350,000 to construct recreational facilities at the site, which was officially established as Veterans Memorial Park on November 25, 1986.
Less that a year later, a grant from the Florida Legislature Land Acquisition Trust Fund was appropriated along with local resources to construct Veterans Memorial Park Museum. The Veterans Memorial Park Museum was commissioned June 6, 1990 and opened the next year in partnership with Hillsborough County Veterans Council and County officials that included hosting and organizing patriotic events at Veterans Memorial Park.
Memorial Day in 1997 was celebrated on May 24 and many Americans held cookouts and barbeques but something special occurred in Tampa with the dedication of the “Freedom Memorial”. This memorial became a reality from hard work of the Veterans Freedom Memorial Committee, Inc. which was a team of dedicated veterans, county officials, Trustees, Board of County Commissioners and the Tampa City Council. This Memorial site is considered hallowed ground by many veterans and will forever be a place to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
More than a decade later in early 2004, county leaders recognized interest in Veterans Memorial Park was increasing so they acquired an additional 4.73 acres to expand the park. Two years later, on April 5, 2006, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners directed the County Administrator to “form a committee to develop a plan for honoring those who have lost their lives while serving in combat”. After several months of meetings and studies between veterans advocates, county planners and others, a comprehensive and professionally designed “Master Plan” was approved by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and the project was put in motion with a Ground Breaking Ceremony on November 17, 2009.
During the next decade, Veterans Memorial Park and the Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins Jr. Museum (renamed on October 20, 2010) has seen a most remarkable transformation due in part to another unique partnership between county government and another non-profit organization, Veterans Memorial Park and Museum Committee, Inc. The park is now home to over 20 Memorials and a Veterans Resource Center that provides personal service and support to Hillsborough County Veterans, their dependents and survivors. The memorial plazas and park grounds gained local notoriety in 2015 when they received several awards from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council at their 33 rd Annual Future of the Region Award.
Also, watch this brief drone video for a “birds eye” view of Veterans Memorial Park.