Founded by Colonel Host in 2011, the Florida Veteran’s Hall of Fame aims to recognize and honor those military veterans who, through their works and lives during and after military service, have made a significant contribution to the State of Florida, their city, town, and community through civic, business, public service and other worthy pursuits.
The Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame Society, Inc. was formed in 2019 as a supportive non-profit organization to provide financial and administrative support to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and the Florida Veterans Foundation as requested to ensure the continuing success of the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame. In 2010, while traveling with family in California, Colonel Host got his hand on a copy of the Retired Officer’s Magazine and came across an article about the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame. After reading this article, he thought that Florida should also have a similar institution as the state consisted of more than 1.5 million veterans at that time. On his return to Tallahassee, he immediately contactedhis friend, Lt Gen Bob Milligan, who wasa USMC Retired and the acting Director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, and Florida State Senator Mike Bennett, who was also a friend, and discussed the idea. Host and his friends came to the conclusion that this was a good idea, and eventually, they took this idea to the legislation.
Under their guidance, in 2011, the Florida Legislature passed a bill creating the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame. The legislation placed the Hall of Fame under the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) for administrative purposes but with the stipulation that no appropriated money was to be used. The FDVA selected nominees; the majority were former Governors, some of whom owned slaves, and sent the names to the Cabinet, who rejected the nominees and directed that the legislation be rewritten. In 2012, the legislation was rewritten, and the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame Council (Council) was established, which consisted of Florida Cabinet members – Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Secretary of Agriculture – as well as an appointee by the President of the Florida Senate, House of Representatives and the Director of the FDVA.
Appointments to the Council were made in late 2012. The initial Council was comprised of the following appointments: Governor – Rep. Larry Metz, Attorney General – Chris Hart, CFO – Dr. James Harrell, Agricultural Commissioner – Adrian Jackson, Senate President – Ray Quinn, House Speaker – Bruce Host, Director FDVA – Marlene’ Carter. Bruce Host was selected as the first chair of the Council at its first meeting in December 2012. The second Council meeting was held in Largo at the FDVA Headquarters in February 2013. Nomination guidelines and forms were approved, the logo/medal was created, and the Hall of Fame website was developed by FDVA webmaster Mike Kirby. The Hall of Fame website went live on February 27, 2013. The Council opened the application period, accepting nominations thru the website, beginning March 1 and closing on June 1, 2013. The Council approved a schedule that called for the nominees to be reviewed and the first class selected in June 2013. Nominees were to be forwarded to the FDVA in July and then to the Cabinet in August. The Cabinet was to approve nominees at their September meeting and inform FDVA so that notifications could be made.
Nominations and Inductions
In the first year, forty-five nominations were received, and from those, the Council selected six veterans for induction. The Governor hosted a reception on Veterans’ Day for the inductees along with other veterans. The ceremony was held the following day, November 12, 2013, in the Capitol cabinet room. The induction ceremony was followed by an unveiling of the wall plaque in the Capitol rotunda. In 2014 eight of the 30 nominees were selected by the Council for induction. Those eight included three civil war veterans, which included former United States Senator Samuel Pasco, former Florida Governor Edward Perry, and the founder of the Florida National Guard, Colonel David Lang. However, The FDVA did not believe the three civil war veterans couldqualify for induction and did not forward their names to the Cabinet, and only five were selected for induction by the Cabinet at its February 2015 meeting. As of 2019, 86 members have been inducted into the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame; it was concluded that this was a sufficient number to create a support group to provide financial and administrative assistance to the FDVA and the Florida Veterans Foundation who have been funding the funding for the Hall of Fame.
Meeting courageous veterans renews your faith in humanity and your appreciation for your nation. You should tell anybody who you think would be a good fit for the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame Society if they have done anything brave in their life that you think would be worthy of recognition. The veteran should meet the requirements for the induction and then reap the benefits.