Active and retired service personnel along with families and the public are invited to a special Veterans Day observance, 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 12 at the Military Museum of South Florida off SW 152 St. adjoining the Gold Coast Railway grounds at MiamiZoo.
A temporary 30-foot steel will serve for a flag-raising ceremony with appropriate fanfare by the Fort Benning Army Band Brass Quintet with added musical selections by FIU’s Ernest Rodriguez to mark the occasion.
“Join with our servicemen and women for this important milestone,” said Naval Reserve Chief Warrant Officer Anthony Atwood, historian and FIU professor who has shepherded the emerging military museum and veterans memorial to reality.
The still-incompleted building has been developed in restoration projects after removal of the structure from the old Richmond Naval Air Station where it once served as a Navy blimp headquarters before salvaging as a new museum of South Florida military history.
Funding of $2 million from the county’s Building Better Communities bond program was used to restore the structure and its removal in 2010 to the Gold Coast Museum grounds. A substantial part of the funding built a new foundation, replaced structural members including windows and doors and finished the building’s roof and exterior.
An additional $1 million county funding in 2012 continued museum by finishing three interior floors and walls, installing new doorways, a stairwell, a main entrance porte-cochere and elevator shaft.
Still to be funded are the purchase and installation of an elevator, four restrooms and plumbing and air conditioning to serve 10,000 square feet within the building’s three floors, as well as other finishing details, Atwood said.
Completion of the museum is dependent upon continuing fund allotments, including a request for state participation sought in the 2012 legislative session but rejected by Gov. Rick Scott among other budget cuts.
Once the museum’s interior is serviceable, an accumulation of military exhibits will be installed along with artifacts that trace the history of South Florida and its servicemen and women during World War II and later years.
Last March, the museum unveiled a granite marker memorializing U. S. Naval personnel who served aboard the Command Ship USS Biscayne that saw service from 1941-1946 in key European invasions before de-commissioning.
Atwood said that formal opening of the museum remains contingent upon continuation of sufficient funding to complete development for opening as a public museum, an event already six years in the making since the 26-year reserve officer began his mission after completing active duty guarding the Taliban at Guantanamo in Cuba in 2007. For more information, tel. 305-225-9165 or visit <www.miamimilitarymuseum.com.>