A dozen lifesize statues are now in the Gulf of Mexico as part of an underwater dive memorial dedicated to U.S. veterans.
The memorial, known as the “Circle of Heroes” and touted as the first of its kind by its creators, will feature 24 concrete statues of service members in total to represent the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, the Marines and the Coast Guard.
The statues are anchored by 2,000 pound bases 40 feet below the surface about 10 miles off the coast of Dunedin Beach in Florida. They are part of a 100-foot circle facing a pentagon-shaped monument honoring the services with bronze emblems on its five sides.
Former Congressman David Jolly, R-Fla., led efforts to raise funds for the project through his nonprofit organization, Brighter Future Florida. Jolly was inspired to assist the project because of his uncle’s vision for the memorial, according to Florida Politics.
“(I) just wanted something that was going to be permanent and also wanted something that was going to honor our veterans in a unique and different way,” scuba diving instructor and oceanographer Heyward Mathews, Jolly’s uncle, told the Military Times in June.
The memorial is also intended to help veterans struggling with PTSD, depression and trauma. John David White, director of the nonprofit Brighter Future Florida, said a veteran-focused nonprofit is expected to lead a group of amputees to view the memorial.
“It’s a dive destination — yes,” White told the Military Times in June. “But it’s also going to give back to the veterans that may be able to benefit from it.”
Those who visit the monument can either scuba dive below the water, or can snorkel to view the monument from above. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication for the monument are slated for next month.