The United States' first underwater memorial honoring American veterans has opened to divers. Ten miles from the Clearwater, Florida coast and 40 feet below, the Circle of Heroes features a dozen life-size statue honoring all branches of the military. Another 12 will be added in 2020.
Not only is the dive site used as a veteran's memorial, it's also used as a therapeutic dive site for disabled veterans who may suffer from PTSD, trauma or depression. The idea for the underwater memorial came from Dr. Heyward Matthews, professor of oceanography at St. Petersburg College.
The privately-funded memorial will also serve as an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico and will hopefully bring more dive-related tourism to the Clearwater area.