Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday November 20th 2018

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Honoring Our History and A Hero

By Rick Outzen

On Tuesday, March 22, the members of the Pensacola Heritage Foundation announced plans for a historical addition to one of America’s Great Streets—a monument honoring American Revolutionary War hero General Bernardo de Gálvez.

Gálvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana and later Viceroy of New Spain, and his troops defeated the British at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Natchez, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama before moving on Pensacola. His 1781 victory at Pensacola left the British with no naval bases in the Gulf of Mexico and resulted in the capture of substantial British territory along with over 1,000 British troops.

According to many historians, Gálvez’s victory at Pensacola relieved pressure on General George Washington’s armies and helped hasten the end of the war, which culminated just five months later with the British surrender at Yorktown.

The Gálvez monument will stand over 19 feet tall and will be located at the intersection of Palafox and Wright Streets.  Created by sculptor Bob Rasmussen and architect Dio Perera, it will include a bronze statue of Gálvez astride his horse and face the site of Fort George, his hat raised in victory. The statue will sit atop a plinth of Spanish limestone featuring the Gálvez coat-of-arms cast in bronze. Water features will spill into an infinity pool made of Spanish granite. The pool will be enclosed by a bench of Spanish limestone and surrounded by a perimeter of red roses representing the Spanish soldiers who died in the campaign.

The Pensacola Heritage Foundation has begun a capital drive for the monument.

The total budget for the Gálvez monument is $400,000, which is very inexpensive compared to similar monuments in other cities, according to the foundation. The goal is to dedicate the monument on Gálvez Day—May 8, 2017.

The Galvez monument project sprung from discussions with the City of Pensacola. When Pensacola Heritage Foundation, the oldest historic preservation group in Pensacola, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, the organization and city agreed to partner in a series of monuments, gardens, recognitions and presentations that would feature their common mission of heritage support for the Pensacola area.

When the board began looking at new projects, it noted that the city had few life-size statues.

“We’ve started looking for somebody that would present to everybody in the area more about the Spanish influence,” Pensacola Heritage Foundation president Jim Green said recently in an interview on News Talk 1370 WCOA’s “Pensacola Speaks.”

Meanwhile, Nancy Fetterman had been working for years on honoring General Gálvez. It was through her efforts that Congress conferred honorary citizenship on Gálvez.

“After talking with her and seeing all the things that he did, not only for Pensacola but for the whole United States in the Revolutionary War,” said Green, “we thought he would be the person that we should highlight with the first statue that we built.”

Fetterman told Inweekly that it took seven years to garner an honorary citizenship for the Spanish general. Many times she was told it was an impossible task. “Impossible” isn’t in the vocabulary of the widow of the late Adm. Jack Fetterman.

A friend and wife of a Naval officer contacted her in 2007.  She was in charge of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Spain, where the couple was stationed.

“She recognized that Gálvez was so much more important than de Luna to the citizens of Spain,” Fetterman said to Inweekly. “After going back and forth for many months, she finally said that I should try for an honorary citizenship.”

Fetterman started with Congressman Jeff Miller’s office. His young staff wasn’t encouraging.

She recalled, “They said, ‘Ms. Fetterman, I’m sorry. I don’t even know how to do it. I don’t think you can do it. Just drop it.’”

A few years later, she traveled with a Pensacola delegation to Pensacola’s sister city of Macharaviaya, Spain, which is the birthplace of Galvez. She was inspired.

“We had this instant connection with our sister city,” she said. “Each year, that city celebrates its native son.  Macharaviaya hosts a Fourth of July party and re-enactment of the Battle of Pensacola.”

She said Mayor Ashton Hayward was part of the delegation and developed a friendship with Spanish Mayor Antonio Campus.  After the visit, Hayward officially recognized Gálvez Day in Pensacola on May 8 each year, the final day of the battle in 1781.

When the University of West Florida and other scholars had gotten the designation of “Great Floridian” for Bernardo Gálvez in 2012, Fetterman thought the time was right to try again.

“I went back to Jeff and said, ‘I’m going to write the argument. I promise you, I’ll get the Texas Delegation on my side. It’s only going to take a little bit to convince them that this man really deserved it. He was quintessentially an American at the time. He understood what the Americans were fighting for.’”

In December 2014, the U.S. Senate passed House Joint Resolution 105, which the U.S. House had adopted by voice vote in July. The resolution granted honorary U.S. citizenship to Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez.

When he introduced the measure, Rep. Miller said, “General Gálvez was a Spanish general who provided invaluable support to the American war effort both before and after Spain’s official entry into the Revolutionary War.”

Gálvez became only the eighth person to granted honorary U.S. citizenship.

The city of Macharaviaya is returning the honor by assisting in raising funds for the Galvez monument.

Fetterman said, “The Granaderos y Damas de Gálvez de Macharaviaya commissioned an artist to paint a formal portrait of Gálvez. Javier Fructuosos Medina, president of the Remedios Medina Foundation, is helping Deputy Mayor Katie Hallybone in this project by providing the Gálvez portrait.”

On April 1, the city will announce its support of the project and then send the completed portrait to Pensacola. For Fetterman and the Pensacola Heritage Foundation, the portrait signifies Spain’s long alliance with Pensacola.

The Pensacola Heritage Foundation has already raised $40,000 for the monument and is confident the community will respond to make the dream a reality.  Fetterman and Green feel that Gálvez is the perfect individual to honor at this time, because he embodies the city of Pensacola’s debt to Spain and the role it played in shaping our community.

Fetterman said, “Bernardo de Gálvez helped shape the destiny not only of Pensacola, but of our nation.”

Gálvez Monument
What: Life-size monument to Bernardo de Gálvez, hero of the Battle of Pensacola sponsored by the Pensacola Heritage Foundation.
Where: Median at the intersection of Palafox and Wright streets.
Cost: $400,000
Completion Date:  Galvez Day, May 8, 2017
Tax-deductible donations:  Pensacola Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 12424,Pensacola, FL 32591
Website: GalvezMonument.com