The Life Scrolls: A Tribute to Florida’s World War I Fallen, presented by the Memorial Park Association Board of Directors, is now on display at the end of Currents of Time on the second floor at MOSH. The new exhibit is a tribute to the Florida Fallen—referring to the men and women who served during The Great War (WWI) and subsequently died while in service. The Life Scrolls—on loan from the Memorial Park Association and Jacksonville Public Library—bear the names of over 1,200 unforgotten Floridians. Since those scrolls were written, a slew of additional Florida Fallen names were uncovered thanks to Clayton State University Professor R.B Rosenburg’s research. Today, the list bears more than 1,700 names. The exhibit shares a glimpse into real stories of real heroes.
A Brief History
In 1918, the Rotary Club of Jacksonville proposed the Memorial Park development in honor of the Fallen. Local sculptor Charles Adrian Pillars was commissioned to create the powerful, winged, bronze statue atop a globe that serves as the centerpiece of the park. The names of the Fallen were written on parchment, placed within a lead box, within a bronze box, and interred at the base of the sculpture on Christmas Day in 1924.
When Hurricane Irma made landfall in September, 2017, the park endured tremendous flooding. Concerned for the preservation of the scrolls, the Memorial Park Association excavated and removed the box, which unveiled the waterlogged scrolls. Experts at the Archaeological Maritime Lab at the St. Augustine Lighthouse spent six-weeks restoring the scrolls. The restoration processes required painstaking efforts to avoid further damaging the fragile parchment.
The scrolls, which have been resealed and preserved, will remain above-ground for the foreseeable future. The exhibit features these scrolls, along with stories and artifacts from the WWI Fallen and Veterans; the story of the scrolls’ recovery from Memorial Park after Hurricane Irma with video and photos; and the lead and bronze boxes the scrolls were contained in. MOSH is the first hosting location as the exhibit will travel throughout the state of Florida. The exhibit is on display at MOSH from November 11, 2021 – March 21, 2022.
“MOSH is honored to host the debut of this powerful exhibit. Reading the names and stories of the individuals who fell in service of our country is a deeply moving experience for myself and is sure to be for many of our guests who visit. 123 of Florida’s Fallen were from Duval County – the highest total of any county in Florida. Knowing that there may be descendants of the Fallen who visit the Museum and see their relative’s history brought to life with such care and grace warms my heart and makes us at MOSH proud to put a spotlight on this piece of Florida’s past.” – Alec Warren, Education Manager