From fountains to parks, here are 7 Jacksonville places that symbolize American patriotism

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located at the Lejeune Memorial Gardens.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located at the Lejeune Memorial Gardens.

With Onslow home to one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the nation, the area is no stranger to honoring America.

From memorials to parks, Jacksonville is home to several places that symbolize America, and with the Fourth of July just days away, residents and visitors can honor the holiday by checking out the area landmarks.

More: From fireworks to cruises, here's how Onslow residents can celebrate the Fourth of July

Here's what places to visit in Jacksonville that highlight American patriotism.

Lejeune Memorial Gardens

The Lejeune Memorial Gardens is located at 109 Montford Landing Road in Jacksonville, and according to the City of Jacksonville website, honors those who serve our country, and is a place to gather to remember those who have given the greatest sacrifice for our freedom.

The Gardens is home to the Beirut Memorial, the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Montford Point Marine Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Beam from the World Trade Center.

Free parking is available at the entrance to the Gardens, and information placards are also on site. Jacksonville Transit even has a stop located within walking distance.

The Beirut Memorial has jets that light up in different colors, best viewed at nighttime.
The Beirut Memorial has jets that light up in different colors, best viewed at nighttime.

Beirut Memorial

The Beirut Memorial is located in the Lejeune Memorial Gardens and was a gift from the citizens of Onslow County to honor the men who gave their lives in 1983.

The memorial is a "solemn tribute to 273 Marines who gave the last full measure of devotion in Lebanon and Grenada on October 23, 1983," according to Visit Jacksonville's website.

The names of each man are engraved in granite along with the words "They Came In Peace."

"Set in a wooded site with beautiful landscaping, this is a fitting tribute to our military men and women who answer the call everyday without regard to personal safety," the page states. "Each year, a Remembrance Observance takes place October 23, 10 a.m., at the Beirut Memorial to remember those who gave the greatest sacrifice for their country."

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There's also a living tribute called the Beirut Memorial Grove, which is a grove of 273 fall Flowering Chinese Pistache trees located at the intersection of U.S. 17, N.C. 24 and Wilmington Highway across from Camp Geiger.

The website says Jacksonville officials selected this site for the grove to replace the current Bradford pear trees which were planted to honor the troops killed in Beirut along Freedom Way.

Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located at the Lejeune Memorial Gardens and is dedicated to all men and women who served during the Vietnam War.

According to Visit Jacksonville's website, the memorial stands as recognition for the nearly ten million veterans of the five branches of the Armed Forces who served active duty during the Vietnam era, nearly three million of whom served in the Vietnam theater.

"With this memorial, the 303,704 service members who were wounded in Vietnam, the many POW/MIAs who are still unaccounted for, and the 58,229 men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country are remembered," the page states.

The memorial is second in size only to the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, and is one of only a few that lists all the names of the fallen.

The memorial includes an entry wall with medallions and flags representing all branches of the military, a walkway and bridge with French design, and a glass wall etched with names of those MIA, POW or dead.

The names on the glass wall are listed in alphabetical order, and a circle at the end of some names identifies Onslow's POW/MIAs, and a '*' symbol signifies that they have come home.

The memorial is also home to a dome, which the website says was completed in March of 2014, and is the finishing piece of the memorial and "caps the fountain." The unofficial words from Taps is inscribed around the dome, and the fountain has five jets representing each branch of the Armed Forces, each of which light up with a different color, best viewed at night.

The Montford Point Marine Memorial can be found at the Lejeune Memorial Gardens.
The Montford Point Marine Memorial can be found at the Lejeune Memorial Gardens.

Montford Point Marine Memorial

The Montford Point Marine Memorial is located in the Lejeune Memorial Gardens and is dedicated to all Montford Point Marines and their legacy. A dedication ceremony was held on July 29, 2016 to officially open the memorial to the public.

History on the 'Montford Pointers' can be found on the Visit Jacksonville website.

The memorial includes three concentric circle patterns representing the ripples of influence that changes our nation, according to the website. The ripples were caused by the Montford Point Marines, the US Marine Corps and the American public.

"An artillery cannon is representative of WWII weaponry that all US Marines used and trained with," the website says. "The sculpture represents all Montford Point Marines and represents when Montford Pointers shifted from being support personnel to defenders during the war."

There is a pillar at the center, representing their unending drive to overcome equality at the time, and a wall of stars including approximately 20,000 gold stars representing the number of Montford Point Marines that served during WWII.

The absence of names is symbolic of the fact that no complete roster of Montford Point Marines has ever been located, the website says.

9/11 Memorial Beam from the World Trade Center

The 9/11 memorial is located in the Lejeune Memorial Gardens, and includes a beam from the Twin Towers which was presented to the first troops to those who invaded Iraq from the police and firefighters of New York, according to the City of Jacksonville website.

An annual Patriot Day Observance is held at the memorial.

The Freedom Fountain is the gateway to downtown Jacksonville.
The Freedom Fountain is the gateway to downtown Jacksonville.

Freedom Fountain

The Freedom Fountain is located at 895 New Bridge Street, and is the gateway to downtown Jacksonville.

It was officially turned on in November 2012, and honors all those who serve and have served their country, specifically those who have passed through Onslow County.

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The original Freedom Fountain was built at the Onslow County Courthouse but was demolished years ago to make room for a new jail. The fountain features a center jet dedicated to freedom, a trio of surrounding fountainheads representing the federal, state and local government, and fifty bubblers at the rim of the edgeless pool to represent the 50 states.

The fountain is also surrounded on one side by wall arches that house military medallions representing the five branches of the military.

Richard Ray All-America Park

Richard Ray All-America Park is located within Jacksonville Commons, and was named to honor Richard L. Ray, a dedicated citizen, visionary, and statesmen dedicated to making Jacksonville all it could be, according to the City of Jacksonville website.

"He left a legacy of being a good businessman, a devoted husband, and father as well as an esteemed civic leader," the page says. "To some, he was a builder of businesses, industry and roads. But his vision embraced more than bricks and mortar; it was the fulfillment of a dream to make Jacksonville the community where all could call home, even if here only for a few years as a military connected resident. It was his vision that generated new economic activity."

The park was facilitated in part by his hand in developing Western Boulevard's extension.

"He saw jobs creation as part of the land he developed," the page says. "He saw development driving action that would improve the community. His work stimulated residential development and opportunities for the city and county to expand recreation and education facilities."

The site also says Ray was supportive of civic and benevolent causes and cheered the designation of this community as an All-American City in 1992.

The creation of the park was envisioned to honor Ray's welcome to all citizens of Jacksonville, whether temporary or permanent, and his dedication to the dream of the community as a better place.

"A member of the Jacksonville New River Rotary, he gave freely of his time to the Chamber of Commerce, was active in his church and was a proud father of two sons and devoted to his wife," the page says. "His benevolence was well known. And it was personal. In 1992, he drove a truck of donated supplies to the victims of Hurricane Andrew in Florida. He died in a boating accident on the New River August 23, 1996."

The park was dedicated Friday, July 11, 2003, after a fundraising effort for the park was led by Dewey Edwards and John Pierce who worked with Ray in development and civic projects. Then city manager Jerry Bittner helped with the effort.

Today, the site says the park offers a variety of amenities including the city’s first meditation labyrinth, an amphitheater and two picnic shelters.

"A good portion of the 7-acre site includes the Gardens of the States with horticultural examples from seven regions of the United States," the site explains. "Pathways define the regions and kiosks are located along the path for educational purposes. Through the tree line you will find a large playground fully equipped and carved in the shape of North Carolina."

Reporter Morgan Starling can be reached at

This article originally appeared on The Daily News: As we celebrate July 4th, here are Jacksonville places that symbolize America