More than 70 guests attended the Memorial Park Association’s Nov. 12 opening reception for its exhibit on The Life Scrolls at the Museum of Science & History.
The exhibit offers an intimate look at some of the 1,771 Florida men and women who gave their lives in the service of the United States during the First World War. In addition to the six original restored scrolls, the exhibition includes the original two-part vault unearthed, artefacts from the Great War; photos and souvenirs; a video on the excavation and restoration of the rollers after Hurricane Irma in 2017, and QR codes for visitors to find family members at memparkjax.org/florida-fallen/.
Memorial Park Association Board Chair Michele Luthin welcomed guests to the event, which included a brief presentation of Jacksonville during World War I and the period immediately following by Dr. Alan J. Bliss, CEO of the Jacksonville Historical Society. The keynote speaker was Dr RB Rosenburg, Emeritus Professor of History at Clayton State University, Morrow, Georgia. Rosenburg discussed the methods used during his four-year research project to trace the names on the scrolls and find more than 500 additional names of war dead that were not listed when the memorial park was opened on December 25, 1924.
Following Dr. Rosenburg’s presentation, Luthin presented him with an award from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, highlighting his contributions to the Memorial Park Award of Excellence for the restoration and rehabilitation of Riverside Park.
“The evening’s program was excellent,” said Suzanne Perritt, who was in attendance as a representative of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.
Once the exhibition ends at MOSH next March, it will be presented from July 1 to December 31, 2022, at the Sky Gallery at Jacksonville International Airport.
Major sponsors of The Life Scrolls exhibit include William J. Hicklin, Jr. Fund; BDO United States LLP; Wingard design and communication; Preston and Joan Haskell; Jacksonville Historical Society; VyStar Credit Union and the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. The exhibit was designed by Wingard, a Jacksonville creative agency that also recently completed a redesign of the Memorial Park Association website, memparkjax.org.
In 2017, the US Department of the Interior recognized Memorial Park as Important by listing it on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. That same year, the United States’ WWI Centennial Commission designated the park’s bronze sculpture, Spiritualized Life, as a WWI Centennial Memorial.