Marcel Traficante, division vice commander for U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 11-3, and public affairs officer Suzie de Miranda stand in front of the Auxiliary’s military memorial wall at 299 Boca Ciega Drive, Madeira Beach.
MADEIRA BEACH – A longtime vision for Marcel Traficante is coming to fruition on the south wall of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary building in Madeira Beach.
Nearly two years since he got the idea to build a memorial wall to honor members of the U.S. military, a total of 47 memorial bricks have been attached to the wall next to an attractive, colorful mural.
His goal is to fill the wall to capacity with about 360 more bricks, which are actually individual tiles.
“I think it’s our responsibility to remember those who have decided to unselfishly serve our great country,” said Traficante, the division vice commander of Auxiliary Flotilla 11-3. “This is an opportunity to honor a family member or anyone who has served in the military.”
The concept came about after two of Traficante’s friends were killed in Afghanistan.
“Their wives were afraid their children would grow up not knowing who their father was,” said Traficante. “We have memorials in Washington but really nothing out there nearby.”
In February 2012, Traficante went to work. He advertised on Craig’s List for an artist to paint the mural and found Belinda Davis of St. Petersburg. She began work on the mural about four months later and a year ago it was dedicated at the Auxiliary headquarters, located at 299 Boca Ciega Drive.
“After we got the mural finished, I thought why not do memorial bricks to honor current and past military members?” Traficante said. “We wanted to make sure the bricks were made in the U.S. and that was tough.”
After a little more searching, he found Miami-based Bricks ‘R Us, which not only sells the bricks but also does laser engraving.
The Auxiliary sells two sizes – a 4-inch by 8-inch brick for $59 and an 8-inch square brick for $79. Proceeds help to support public safety programs at the Auxiliary.
Both de Miranda and Traficante stressed that bricks can be purchased by anyone, military or civilian, for anyone who has served in the U.S. military, past or present.
One family, the Allaire family of Madeira Beach, purchased three bricks – for World War II U.S. Navy veteran Richard Allaire, U.S. Army Iraq veteran Patrick Allaire and his son Matthew, who is currently serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
They were among the initial 47 bricks to go up that took a little longer than originally anticipated.
“We discovered we needed to stucco the wall so the bricks would adhere better and then we had to seal them to protect them from the weather,” said Traficante. “We weren’t anticipating (the extra cost), but we wanted it done right.”
The Auxiliary spent $1,300 for the stucco work and $400 for the sealant.
More bricks will soon be added to the wall.
“We wish we had more,” said Suzie De Miranda, the flotilla staff officer for public affairs. “We just want to get the word out that the wall is here. A lot of people don’t know it’s here. So we’re considering putting up signs.”
Other amenities planned for the wall include a battlefield marker encased in plexi-glass, landscaping, lighting that will allow 24/7 viewing of the wall and two benches facing the wall, compliments of the city of Madeira Beach.
Ultimately, Traficante said, he hopes to have services and an open house at the Auxiliary building on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
For information on purchasing a brick, call 391-5185 or 482-6204.