Braden Castle Dedicates Veteran Memorial

Karen Cascaddan
BRADENTON – A new U.S. Military Veterans Memorial was dedicated on Friday, March 30, in Braden Castle. The Marine Corps League DeSoto Detachment #588, directed by Dave Klein, presented the nation's colors.

Gay Wells, Braden Castle resident, led the crowd in singing the Star Spangled Banner. A quartet of Braden Castle residents Nelson Lockhart, Dave Moore, Jim Myers, and Ron Herrold sang America the Beautiful. Braden Castle residents Dick Sausville and Dan Stoin sang Nathan’s Homecoming, and The Thin Line, respectively – original songs written by the musicians.

The inlaid star-shaped engraved brick memorial at the base of the flag pole was the vision of Nanceen Briggs, Braden Castle resident, and laid by Ed Mills, local mason. The bricks, engraved with the names of veterans, were purchased by Braden Castle residents and others. Flags to honor the service of all branches of the United States military were also displayed on the Braden Castle plaza.

Briggs’ inspiration for the design and ceremony hails from a long family history of men who served in the military, including her great-grandfather, father, uncles, brother and husband. Her uncle designed a veteran’s Purple Heart Memorial in his hometown. 

"It touched my heart to see all that family heritage in one spot at the Purple Heart Memorial” Briggs said, "and during that event I found out that my grandfather, and two uncles were purple heart recipients.”

Briggs was a military wife during Vietnam. She shared that she did not like the homecoming that servicemen received at that time, and she feels that communities today can do more than then to honor their veterans. 

When Briggs and her husband, Steve Briggs (active Marine in Vietnam), retired to Braden Castle in 2011, they began to help maintain the grounds around the Braden Castle ruins.  

Briggs commented, "The vision of a veteran’s memorial around the flag pole just seemed natural.  Veterans from all over the world are a part of history, and Braden Castle is an historic district.” 

Briggs purposely chose March 30 to commemorate the memorial. Speaking to the crowd she declared, "There’s only two people willing to die for you: that’s Jesus Christ, and a solder. So, it only seemed fitting that we dedicate this memorial on Good Friday.”

The memorial, situated on the plaza near the Braden Castle ruins, is open to the public. To purchase a brick to commemorate a veteran, contact the Braden Castle Park office at (941) 746-7700. 

Braden Castle Park is on the national register of historic places and is located north of the intersection of Manatee Ave E and 27th St E.