Mayor John Sullivan would like to see a monument honoring Iraqi war veterans built in Cape Coral, and he is hoping the community will rally behind the effort.
The area is home to numerous veterans - the Cape, in fact, was initially heavily marketed to retired military - and the recent initiative to restore the Iwo Jima monument at Eco Park demonstrates that recognition of those who have served is a cause the Cape is willing to embrace, he said.
"I feel this would be a great thing for the city of Cape Coral," Sullivan said in a telephone interview Thursday. "I'm sure once the word gets out, we should be able to get recognition for what we're trying to accomplish here."
He wants the city to be among the first to recognize -and thank - the country's most recent veterans for their efforts, he said, adding recognition for those who served in Iraq is timely now and he intends no slight to those who served, or are still serving, in Afghanistan.
"We certainly do owe our Iraqi veterans a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices that they've made," he said. "I think we need to take these one at a time and since the Iraqi conflict has ceased it seemed to me to be appropriate to start with the veterans who served in Iraq."
He has been mulling the idea for two to three months and has already spoken with some of the volunteers who were involved in raising $60,000 towards the $103,000 restoration of the famous World War II replica as well as members and officers at the VFW.
Interest has been immediate.
"So far no one has said no," Sullivan said. "So far everyone has seemed willing to come forward to help with this."
Community involvement would include soliciting and choosing a design, choosing a location within the city for installation, and raising the money needed for the project through grants, possibly the city's economic development office, and other means.
Key to all of these components, he emphasized, will be involvement on the part of local vets who served in Iraq.
"I am hoping to hear from Iraqi veterans who are willing to sit on a committee to select what they feel will be appropriate," Sullivan said.
He also would like to involve the rest of the community, including school children who may be invited to submit drawings for consideration, or even a citywide contest with recognition for the best idea that can be adapted first into an artist's rendition, and then into final form for construction and installation.
"I would really like to make this a Cape Coral effort from beginning to completion," Sullivan said. "I think the Cape Coral people would appreciate being involved."
He plans to announce his idea formally at Monday's city council meeting.
Meanwhile, he invites Iraqi vets to contact him either via his city cellphone, 239-707-1583 or city e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
"I definitely need help," Sullivan said. "This is going to be a pretty big effort, something like the effort with the Iwo Jima restoration, maybe even bigger since we're starting from scratch here."