There are monuments spread across the country to honor and preserve memories of war heroes. In small towns and villages, mid-sized cities and large metropolitan areas there are structures of various types to remember those who sacrificed to keep our country safe, from the Civil War to the wars of recent times. It is a part of the American custom.

There’s one unique remembrance, though, that lies about 10 miles off the coast of Dunedin Beach, Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico that pays homage to divers. It is a tranquil, peaceful place that offers comfort for veterans included — and prepared — to visit it.

The first of its kind underwater veterans dive memorial was dedicated last Aug. 5. According to VFW Magazine, at a depth of 40 feet, Circle of Heroes currently has 12 statues, but it will feature 24 statues when finished. The additional 12 will complete the 100-foot circle and are expected to be in place this year. Each 6-foot tall statue is weighted down by a 2,000-pound base.

The middle of the circle features a 4-foot-high, 5,830-pound monument. Emblems of the five service branches are prominently displayed on the structure. Fritz Mihelcic, who is junior vice commander-in-chief of the VFW who took part in the first dive, said he had never seen anything like this memorial. A master scuba diver trainer who has participated in dives around the world, noted he has seen plaques attached to different components such as purpose-sunk ships but in those instances, there was no connection between the plaque and the item.

“When you see the Circle of Heroes, you immediately know this memorial is about honoring our military members,” he said. “Honestly, I was blown away.”

Heyward Mathews, a professor of oceanography at Florida’s St. Petersburg College, is credited with coming up with the idea for the veterans dive memorial. For 10 years, he worked to get the memorial set as a place for veterans with PTSD, depression or trauma to dive for therapeutic purposes. Mihelcic supports the idea that diving provides a sense of peace, which can be healing.

The Circle of Heroes, which started as a college professor’s dream a decade ago, was made possible by the persistence of supporters who believed such a dream could be carried out. The project is expected to cost $400,000 when finished. Private and corporate donations paid for the first phase.

The project is further testimony that a dream can become real when veterans and their supporters roll up their sleeves and go to work.