TAMPA - Vietnam War era veteran Bob Silmser helped get the Vietnam memorial built at Veterans Memorial Park off U.S. 301 in Tampa, but he has much bigger plans for the park, including memorials for the Korean War, World War II and Afghanistan's Operation Enduring Freedom.
Silmser anticipates 16 different memorials on the park, but Iraq is next on the list.
The seven-year-long Operation Iraqi Freedom took over 4,400 American lives, wounded over 32,000 and cost $712 billion of American treasure.
But just as freedom isn't free, honoring that cost in bronze and granite isn't free either. "In the Vietnam memorial, we spent over $100,000 dollars. The Iraq memorial comes in at about $250,000," said Silmser.
Hillsborough County is expected to kick in some money, but organizers are eagerly accepting donations as well.
Several Iraq War Veterans are working with Silmser to raise money for the memorial they hope to open a year from now on Veteran's Day. It will have a wall of over 50 names.
But instead of the iconic helicopters of the Vietnam era, the Iraq Memorial will feature a pair of Humvees.
"It makes no difference what war it is -- from the Seminole Indian War all the way up to Afghanistan, the healing process is the same. People died, families cried. Other veterans remember them. That's what it's all about."
To find out more about the park and plans for memorials, visit http://veteransparkhc.com/ .