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~May is Military Appreciation Month~

Flags at Gasparilla Island State Park

The U.S. flag, the Prisoner of War flag and the State of Florida flag fly proudly at all state parks, seen here at Gasparilla Island State Park.

TALLAHASSEE The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service recognizes May as Military Appreciation Month and honors current and former members of the armed forces by offering discounted park passes and hosting historic reenactments around Florida’s state parks.

"Florida's state parks are very proud to honor America's military heroes," said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. "When our park rangers raise the flags in front of each of our parks every morning, we are reminded of the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifice of others."

Florida’s state parks provide discounts on the purchase of Annual Entrance Passes or free Annual Entrance Passes to those who currently serve or have served in the United States military branches, veterans with service related disabilities and surviving spouses of members of the U.S. military who have fallen in combat. The discounted Florida State Parks Annual Entrance Pass is available for purchase at any Florida State Park staffed ranger station.

During this Memorial Day weekend, visit one of the many preserved and restored historic forts found in Florida.

South of Tallahassee in St. Marks, the museum at San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park displays pottery and tools unearthed near the original site of the fort built in 1679 and tells the stories of the Spanish explorers and others who occupied the fort over time.

Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach is one of the most well-preserved 19th century forts in America. This park will hold a Union Garrison and Encampment the weekend of June 1 & 2. Living historians will re-create life at Fort Clinch during the Civil War. Activities may include black powder artillery demonstrations and marching drills, as well as soldiers and civilians taking up duty in the laundry, infirmary and kitchen. There is a candlelight viewing Saturday evening. Entrance fees are $6.00 per vehicle, up to 8 people, plus $2 for each person entering the fort. Memorial Day weekend, the park will hold a World War II event, honoring the men and women who served in that war.

A memorial marks the site of the Civil War battle that took place in 1865 at the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park. A visitor center shares historic information and artifacts year-round.

In St. Augustine, Fort Mose Historic State Park marks the site of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what is now the United States. Volunteers, dressed in period attire, will offer a glimpse into the past on Saturday, May 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. $2 per person, museum admission fee.

In Inverness, Dade Battlefield Historic State Park commemorates the battle that started the Second Seminole War in 1835. A visitor center provides information and a video about the battle.

In Apalachicola, stop by the Orman House Historic State Park to see the Three Soldiers Detail, a bronze replica of the Vietnam memorial statue in Washington, D.C.

Fort Foster is a reconstructed fort that guards the bridge over the river at Hillsborough River State Park north of Tampa. Ranger guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. This Second Seminole War fort offers a look at the 1830s.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973. Built in the mid-1800s, this fort served in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Guided tours are available daily.