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friends of freedom

Platform Art, Inc. produced a monument to recognize the Spanish-American War and Lakeland’s unique role within it. The Friends of Freedom monument, a substantial bronze sculpture is faceted in high-relief visual narrative scenes, and stands in Veterans’ Memorial Park.

Students and teachers participating in the design:

Hunter Wampler & Angela Fout, Art Teacher

Lake Region High School

Sydney Parker

Alexis Cameron

Natalya Negron

Angel Arenas


Lula Peoples and Lucile Pfund, Art Teachers

Santa Fe Catholic School

Blaine Keller

Taylor Tidwell

Emily Dang

Jacob Velez

those men
that came before

Directed by Kevin O'Brien

A PlatformArt Production

the buffalo soldiers

The Spanish-American War was the only military conflict not yet recognized in the park. There are few monuments to the war anywhere in the country, and fewer still to the Buffalo Soldiers who led the successful American campaign for the Cuban War for Independence. But Lakeland lays claim to a piece of this overlooked history, as hundreds of soldiers were stationed here on their way to Cuba.


Artist Becky Ault of Art Research Enterprises, Inc. drafted sketches and created a remarkable sculpted model to begin the monument’s design process. The panel scenes on the base of the bronze monument were designed by Polk County high school student artists, a Platform Art signature public art program. We are committed to giving young artists unique opportunities to participate in design concepts for public art pieces through workshops and critiques with professional artists. The young artists, whose designs were selected for the public art work, interacted directly with Ault and her team of professional artists during fabrication workshops, learning clay sculpting and bronze fabrication techniques.


project sponsors



Art Design Group, Inc.

Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation

Chapter's Health Foundation

Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency

Lakeland Electric

National Endowment for the Arts

Sally & Tom Petcoff  

State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs


City of Lakeland Mayors Council on the Arts


Florida Humanities

Rotary Clubs of Lakeland

Visit Central Florida


American Legion, Post 4

Hilda Sutton & William D. Blanton Charitable Foundation

Marie & Mike Cunningham

Glenn W. & Hazelle Paxson Morrison 


Kathy Abels

Bell-Barnett Family Fund

within the GiveWell Community Foundation

Buffalo Soldiers Florida, Inc.  

A gift from Daniel G. Land in memory of

Virginia May Herndon

NAACP, Lakeland 

Daughters of the American Revolution, Lakeland Chapter


Beatty & Maurice Raymond

Rodda Construction, LLC

Solivita African Heritage Cultural Club

United Daughters of the Confederacy

Annie H. Darracott, Chapter 791

Margaret Anne Wheeler


BSMC, Orlando * BSMC, Tallahassee

Rita & Don Selvage

Military Order of the World Wars SSC FL Chapter 226

Mira Vista Club * Deb & David Misch

Ann & Steve Moore * Elise & Philip Mowry


BSMC Central Florida * Lyonel Lindsey

Martha Lou & Jon Luce * Rick Maxey

Conni Shelnut



Annie & John Artis * Arthur Battles 

Terry Coney * Cynthia Haffey

Beth & Dick Mason * Sarah McKay

Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 535

Linda Moffat * Sheila Phelps 

Richard Wilder


Stevie Buck * Bonnie Franks 

Windy Keene * Patrick Mims

Bruce Sanford 

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