Kissimmee, Florida, which borders Orlando’s south side, is often thought of as a place to find cheap lodging when visiting Walt Disney World. But the town offers several low cost attractions of its own, one of which is the Monument of States.
What is the Monument of States
In 1942, following the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Dr. Charles Bressler-Pettis, a resident of Kissimmee, decided to erect a symbol of American unity. He wrote letters to every state governor and then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt to send him local rocks and mementos. Contributions flowed in ranging from natively-found rocks and remnants of buildings to even bone and fossils.
Dr. Bressler-Pettis then encased these contributions into brightly colored slabs of concrete and inscribed them with the donor’s name and location. By 1943, he had erected a tower of these slabs, somewhat erratically piled one atop of each other, into this work of art that was dedicated in that year as the Monument of States. He topped the sculpture with a 562-lb concrete bald eagle and a flag, to symbolize America as a whole.
Additional Tributes at the Monument of States
Even after the original dedication, contributions came in, not just from the states, but from other countries, as well. Over the years these were also added to the sculpture.
The walkway leading to and around the monument was later inscribed with the names of local World War II veterans as a tribute.
In 1993, on the 50th anniversary of the Monument of States, a time capsule was buried near the base of the statue. No mention is made of what is inside, but the capsule is due to be opened in 2039, on the 100th anniversary of the monument according to the plaque that marks the spot.
Also next to the monument is a plaque with an embedded moonrock, a gift from Walt Disney Studios in 1968.
In 2001, AAA and Hampton Inns banded together and freshened up the monument with a fresh coat of paint and a new flag.
Where is the Monument of States Located
The Monument of States is located in downtown Kissimmee, near Lake Toho. It anchors one corner of Lakefront Park, at 300 E. Monument Street.
Though the attraction is viewable 24 hours a day, best times are definitely during daylight hours. It is completely free to visit, and parking is generally plentiful and free, as well.
This is a great symbol of classic Americana and is worth a visit if looking for a relaxing break from the theme parks that’s easy on the wallet. Especially when paired with a visit to Lakefront Park and Lake Toho.