MILTON — The Veterans Memorial Foundation has a sculpture for honoring those who have supported service members with letters and care packages.
While the sculptor, Roxie Platt, donated her work, the VMF must pay to bronze the statue and add granite slabs below it. To pay these costs, VMF manager Ralph Nesenson said supporters can pay $100 to add a letter writer’s name to the slabs.
"Even with Skype, there are people who write. When somebody yells, 'Mail Call!" everybody runs," Platt said.
The life-size statue features a military service member sitting with his leg propped up on his helmet, canteen at his feet, and letters in his hand.
“He is everybody; every soldier who’s ever served, whether state-side or overseas, any soldier, male or female, of all races, all origins. He has no patches, no insignias, no name on his shirt. The letter that he’s reading is every person who ever wrote a letter, and represents anyone who ever sent a care package or put a box of candy in a bucket to send to the soldiers,” Platt said.
The statue honors both the veterans and those left behind, according to Platt.
“It’s not just relatives. It’s Americans who care, like organizations that got together care packages. That piece is meant to show the loss on both ends. It’s meant to say, ‘Hey, this guy had to be away from home but his family suffered, too.’ It’s supposed to join and encompass everybody, anybody who had to do with anyone serving overseas.”
Platt joined the Women’s Army Corps during the Vietnam War and said she relied on her father’s letters.
“I was 18 years old, gung-ho, and I was going to solve the Vietnam War … I joined up and I was going to save the world,” Platt said.
However, she soon felt the disconnection from home.
“My dad (Daryl G. Tompkins, a Marine in the first Marine division), who was a World War II veteran and put in 32 years, wrote me letters while I was in basic (training) and got transferred and in different jobs,” she said. “He wrote to me. I could be on maneuvers and would sit on the ground as long as they would let me and read his letters.
“There was never a time I would go out into the field without his letters.”
To recognize a military supporter, contact the Veterans Memorial Foundation at 626-7292, or send your name, the name you wish to appear on the statue and $100 to the Veterans Memorial Foundation at 5191 Willing St, Milton FL, 32570.