Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Arizona VI

Bull Head City lies in the north west corner of Arizona, actually not far from Nevada. I had heard tales of a great memorial there so after visiting Lake Havasu, headed in that direction.

What a find. Watching out over the beautiful Colorado River is this magnificent memorial to all who have perished in our wars of the 20th century.

It sits kind of behind the American Legion at 2249 Clearwater Drive and can be accessed from there or from a parking lot further down the road. It rests on a spit of land and features more than 3000 names, including those of our comrades from Vietnam.

There are 50 stars here, one for each state, on the nine foot high and 40 foot wide wall. Eagles stand guard on either side of the names.

Along the path up to the memorial are several panels of bricks dedicated to various veterans and or organizations. There bricks are very often a means to raise funds to complete  projects.

Dedicated on November 11, 2002, it is a stark and beautiful reminder of the sacrifices of so many.

There is another whole section of this memorial, but I will post that at another time.

Next time, on the 22nd, check back for some pics from Wreaths Across America at Arlington national Cemetery. Join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

To see other memorials from Arizona, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Virginia VIII

A little more than 30 miles, and 200 years, WNW of our Nation's Capitol is Leesburg, Virginia. Leesburg is one of the most picturesque towns you might ever have the pleasure to visit.

It is accessed by several highways like any town, but also, unlike many, from historic White's Ferry, the last remaining of what was once a thriving group of Ferrys crossing the Potomac River in various spots to and from Maryland. White's Ferry will celebrate 200 years of service in 2017

I was once offered the job as the ferry's Captain. For a variety of reasons it turned out to not be possible and at the time that was OK. Now, I look back, and think that was a real missed opportunity. How many of us, in this day and age. could add Ferry Captain to our resumes? Not too many, I suspect!

Gracing the lawn of the Loudon County Court House are several memorials to the county's lost.

Our brothers from Vietnam, 12 in all, are here remembered and honored forever.

There was a wedding going on, on the walk up to the Court House when I was there. I found it interesting, and perhaps a little consoling to be among those celebrating life as we visited with those who were lost.

You can see from this pic that names were added after the fact. This happens time and time again. I am glad that those who were left off were found and added, but I wonder why it is so difficult to gather all the names in the first place. I have mentioned in the past that I am involved in creating a memorial in my town and just in the last year, our numbers have jumped from 114 to the 120s and finally has settled, for now, at 131. I wonder if this is correct and if we will ever know?

Here, in this detail shot, you can see that the original list ended with Richard Pohl and then the three additional were added.

Next time, we revisit Arizona. I traveled to the very western side of the state and found a beautiful and somewhat unexpected memorial. Join me there on the 17th, as always, at 9:00am,

To see additional memorials from Virginia, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Colorado XIX

Before we begin today's post, I would like to take just a moment to remember Pearl Harbor. There are not too many left of those who were, perhaps, the charter members of what was to become "The Greatest Generation." We must never forget their courage and sacrifice and all the did for America and the rest of the world. We owe them our unflagging honor, respect, and gratitude.

So, today we will take a look at a few of the other things at the memorial. As you most likely know visitors often leave mementos of one kind or another at these sites. This one is no different.

At first I thought the ammo box was just that and I didn't pay too much attention to it. As I was about to leave I decided to take s quick look inside.

As you can see, many have left remembrances. Everything from rank insignias to live ammunition, it causes one to wonder what each memento meant to the person who left it here.

There were, also, two notebooks left inside. Each was filled with comments and memories from those who have visited this site. I sat for a few moments and read through some of them. Very personal and often moving. I left a few words of my own. As isolated as this site is, I was a little surprised to find that so many had taken the time to reflect and remember. the notebooks are the only explanation I can think of for all the pencils in the ammo box.

Coins are often left at burial or memorial sites. I suppose this originates with the need to pay the Ferryman to transport the lost one to the other side. I see these coins often.

The other interesting thing here today is this helicopter part and dedication to a  soldier who worked on the birds.

I feel as if I have covered this site pretty well, so I will leave it here. I would like to dispel one more of the myths surrounding the site. You may read, elsewhere, that Col. Beckley used a chopper to fly the materials in to the site. This, like the others, is not true. He was the commander of a Construction Brigade and some of his men helped him truck the stuff to the site. This must have been quite a job because if you read the first post in this series, you may recall that the Ranger from the area told me that there were very few months one could access the site without a snow machine of some type.

Some of you have noticed that I have not identified where the memorial is located or how to find it. This is not an accident. Col. Beckley specifically asked that its location not be revealed. He did not want it to become a tourist attraction, he wanted it left for vets to have a place of peace, reflection, and solitude. Some have chosen to speak of its location but I choose to honor Beckley's final wishes. Those who need to be there will find a way; I did.

This is the last post about Soldierstone. I have more pictures of a few of the remaining pillow stones and perhaps one day I will post a them, but for now, it is time to move on.

Next time, on the 12th, we will visit a new state. So, join me at 9:00am.

To see other posts from Soldierstone, Colorado, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Colorado XVIII

Today, after a break for Thanksgiving, we return to Soldierstone deep in Colorado.  If you have been following for a while, you know that this will be another a series. If you have not, I suggest that you scroll back a few posts to get the whole story

So, these next five pics are of pillow stones honoring many of the brave who tried in vain to help Vietnam towards freedom. independence and self determination. It is too easy, I think, for us to think of this as an American war, but these stones highlighted over the past few posts remind us of how many made the ultimate sacrifice far away from their homes and loved ones.

The French, over the years, have taken a lot of grief regarding their martial abilities, but these lines from a poem remind is of their sacrifice in Vietnam. One may easily argue about colonialism and whether it is ever correct and moral, but more than 10,500 French Foreign Legionnaires were lost in Indochina. These Legionnaires were from many different countries, but were drawn to fight along side the French.

These lines, very worn and hard to see here, are from a Legionnaires poem.

A friend says at the edge of a grave
a bit of a prayer
Two pieces of wood in the form of a cross
a name
Does it matter if the name 
is not the right name?
It's a Legionnaire

The Thais were involved not only in Vietnam but also in Laos. The soldiers were often blessed by a Buddhist monks and this stone reflects the words of Phra Ajaan Lee from his last recorded sermon.

Those who have gone to the Buddha as refuge
   will not go to the realms of deprivation
                     On abandoning the human body
they will fill the company of the gods

Many ex-German soldiers were recruited from P.O.W. camps run by the allies into the French Union Forces after WWII. These forces under General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny inflicted heavy losses upon the Viet Minh, their victorys, as we know, were for naught. The two bottom lines, in German, read;

Died for France?
Yes, died for France.

One of the ancient Chinese stratagems speaks to sacrifice as is made in all wars. This one says;

Sacrifice the Plum tree
for the Peach tree

It speaks to the necessity of, sometimes, losing one thing to gain another, even in war. If you think about Gallipolli, or other suicide missions, you may understand.


More than 4,000 ROK (Republic of Korea) soldiers died in Vietnam. They were reputed to be bad asses and we tended to let them go their own way. This poem written in the mid 700's seems completely appropriate here. Written by Master Wolmyong it is called Requiem.

 We know not where we go,
Leaves blown, scattered,
Though fallen fron the same tree,
By the first winds of Autumn.

Next time, on Dec. 7th, I will post a few of the other interesting things found at this site. So join me, as usual, at 9:00am for what I think will be the last from Soldierstone.

To see other memorials from Colorado, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Colorado Thanksgiving

I'm taking a break this week but I am wishing you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings.

Take a moment today to remember the brave men and women who keep us safe today and everyday.

Regular posts will resume on December 2nd with another post from Soldierstone in Colorado, this guys home state.

Join me on the 2nd, as always, at 9:00am

Friday, November 21, 2014

Colorado XVII

More today from the many pillow stones that encircle the central memorial, Soldierstone.

As I have said before these honor the many who fought and died in Vietnam, scroll back if you missed the first few postings about these lost heroes from across the continents.

The contributions and the sacrifices of the Hmong and Lao people are well documented. Some were our allies but many were just people trying to survive caught between the major waring factions.

Then Lao put it this way from a little Lao song;

The gnat lives as best it can
On what nature provides
But how can a great white elephant
Be interested in a little bamboo shoot
Like me?

Another surprise, Moroccan Goums, mixed foot and mounted soldiers made up of tribal scouts were often used in 'Nam. They were called Tirailleurs which means "a shooting skirmisher" in French.

The end for the french, and arguably the beginning for the Americans. This says, in a oft repeated sentiment at this site, "...dying, so that honor at least may be saved..."

And finally, for today, a quote from a Vietnamese poet who was imprisoned from 1957 to 1975. He wrote many beautiful, heartfelt poems during his internment.

When dreams and wishes fall and don't come true,
they turn to stones and just sit there, stock still
they weigh so heavy on my brain, my heart
I want to shrug then off, but often can't.

Nguyen Chi Thien

And on that poetic note, I will invite you back on the 26th for more from Soldierstone and those from beyond our shores who, also, left their mark and their lives in Vietnam.

So, join me, as always, at 9:00am, once again, at Soldierstone.

To see other memorials from Colorado, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Colorado XVI

Today we return to Soldierstone as promised. If you missed the first two postings from this astounding site, just scroll back a little and you can catch up.

The next four pictures will show the faces of the memorial. Each is unique and tells its story in the several languages of the surrounding neighbors of Vietnam.

On the fourth stone there is a scrap of an ancient Chinese poem. It is translated on the respective faces into English, Cambodian, Lao, and Vietnamese.

Erarijarijaka , seen here, from the Arunta language (aboriginal Australian) means, "full of longing for something which has been lost."

Anhaga.... Eardstapa is from an Old English poem and refers to the narrator of the poem. It means solitary mediator and wanderer, one who has lost his leader and his comrades. The poem is around 1000 years old and yet so very appropriate here.

This final face contains additional verses about loss. The first speaks  "As the fallen leaves of Autumn, in unregimented ranks, countless unremembered soldiers rest, eternally." The last recalls the biblical verse turned by other poets and bards into Turn, Turn, Turn probably made the most made famous by The Byrds during our participation in the war.

Next time we will examine some more of the surrounding pillow stones and other interesting finds at the site.

Join me on the 21st, at 9:00am for the next installment from Soldierstone.

To see other memorials from Colorado, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.