Officials from the Fort Myers Beach Public Library unveiled a special statue near the building's entrance at a memorial dedication ceremony last Friday.
"Salute to a Hero" is a bronze statue of a boy wearing a t-shirt with a coastal design, holding a folded flag in one hand and saluting the flag with his other as a tear drops from his left eye. A soft-shelled turtle, which sits on the base of the statue, appears to be looking up at the boy.
"We are gathered in this place to dedicate a statue that honors the men and women who in giving of themselves have endured separation from family and friends, have given their time and talents and have placed freedom for others over their own safety," said Beach Library Director Dr. Leroy Hommerding. "It is a tribute to all who have answered the call to duty as members of our military forces for today and of days gone by. To all of these brave individuals, we owe are gratitude."
Artist/sculptor Mike Scovel declined to speak publicly about his work, but the statue speaks for itself, according to Hommerding.
"We are delighted he's put a great deal of love into the statue. We will enjoy it for many decades," he said.
The funding of the statue was provided by individual donations of more than 200 people. No public funds were spent.
The ceremony included nods to attending board members and Town Council members. Former Councilwoman Jo List led the attendees in singing "My Country tis of Thee" and "America the Beautiful." Beach Elementary students disseminated flowers to military veterans and families of those military personnel that lost their lives while serving. Two fourth graders -Anne Marie Swafford and Isabella Reiman- recited "I Am The Flag of the United States of America" by Howard Schnauber. Beach resident Alice Mack provided patriotic instrumental music.
"May this statue be a reminder to all who enter this hub of activity here on the Beach and to all who drive by on Estero Boulevard as a reminder of the sacrifices that have been made and will be made in our feeble attempts to make this world a better place," said Hommerding. "May we all be enriched by our support of each other."