Residents debate over where Iwo Jima Memoral Statue should be located

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SARASOTA-- As ABC 7 first reported in May, the Sarasota Public Art Fund is on a mission to raise enough money to purchase and bring Felix de Weldon's original Iwo Jima Memorial Statue to Sarasota's bayfront. The proposed site is located within feet of the city's iconic Unconditional Surrender Statue.

Now, there is some debate over where the sculpture should be located. Many on our Facebook page are calling for the Memorial to be placed in a more sacred spot like Sarasota National Cemetery.

"I believe it would encourage people to visit the cemetery and remember the sacrifices made," said Linda Avera-Preslar on Facebook.

"This should not go in a public park. It should be placed among the military in the National Cemetery," said Nick Evans on Facebook.

Sarasota National Cemetery is located on State Road 72, 5-miles east of I-75. Rich Swier, a member of the cemetery's advisory committee, and the Sarasota County Veterans Commission, agrees the cemetery would be a nice spot, but according to him, not the best spot.

"I think the most appropriate place is where it gets the most viewership," he said. In Swier's eyes, that's next to Unconditional Surrender.

"I can't think of a more iconic pairing of two historic memorials in one place. Sarasota is befitting of that," said Swier. "Is debate good about this statue? Certainly. Let's have a debate. That's what the sailor and those Marines fought for and in many cases died for."

On July 3rd, Tom Savage with the Public Art Fund will give a presentation to the city's Public Art Committee. There, board members will give their input. Yet, at the end of the day, the City Commission will have the final say on whether the site on the bayfront is permissible.