Wednesday, June 29, 2016

North Carolina XI

About 60 miles east north east of Raleigh, just off Rte. 95 is Rocky Mount, North Carolina.


This small memorial sits in a small plot of land created by the intersection of three roads: Beale and Bryant Streets and Sunset Avenue.


The memorial bears no names, simply a dedication to all that were lost from Nash County. The thirty three lost include 16 from Rocky Mount.


It stands its watch adjacent to the City Lake.


This is one of two memorials from Rocky Mount and the  other will be featured some time in the not too distant future.

Next time, on the 4th of July, I hope to have a very special post about a guy from my VVA (Vietnam Veterans of America) group who has made a sculpture/painting  honoring those from VVA 641 who care for The Wall every month.

So, take a moment out from the hot dogs, beer and fireworks to check it out on the 4th. It will post, as always, at 9:00am.

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

LZ Maryland

Maryland held an LZ last weekend in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. For those who may not know, LZ stands for Landing Zone, the place where a chopper could come and get troops and take them away to a safe place, therefore, the LZ itself was considered a safe place.

Various states have done LZ's for quite some years. LZ Lambeau, in Wisconsin, is the first one I ever heard of and ]it was held in 2010. Originally, they were efforts to bring vets to one place to provide them with information: Job fairs, benefits, housing, medical care etc. Over the years they have grown into a bit more than this. Now, they, also, function as reunion sites, commercial outlets, etc and often provide entertainment as well as a variety of foods etc.

I was asked to attend to share my photos and stories from this site. I was a little ambivalent, not knowing how I might react to all of this. My buddy, Steve, also a 'Nam vet went with me. we figured we could spell each other, if necessary.


It was estimated that 50, 000 people a day might attend the two day event. I have not seen official numbers, but the building we were in was busy most of the time. Steve and I guess that  we handed out nearly 1,000 cards directing folks to A Means to Heal.

We barely got out of the building but attendees were treated to lots of interesting displays, various aircraft, including Take Me Home Huey that I wrote about here, previously, music from Then Lovin' Spoonful, The Association, and many others.


Bikers came from all over the state to honor the event.

1017 chairs were arranged upon the field to remember those lost in the war. this number is a little confusing to me as other sources quote other numbers. I spoke to former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Chow a while back and he assured me that the number was 1045. The Wall of Faces site claims 110 from Montgomery County, but we have 135 names, so just like everything else about 'Nam, we can't seem to agree. Anyway, the chairs, with a Field Cross among them, were quite moving.


There was, also, a huge map called Tour of Duty map spread out on the pavement. Vets were invited to write their names in the locations they served. I was not able to find out what will ultimately be done with the map, if I do I will update you here. Steve and I each went out and put our names in the proper place.

As I said, there were thousands of people and Steve and I spoke with tons of them, but the most poignant conversation, for me, took place late Saturday evening.

The building was virtually empty, most of the visitors and most of the vendors were gone. We were just kind of hanging out, enjoying the peace and quiet. We were talking about packing up for the night when a young girl approached out table. I will guess she was early 20's and as I did with everyone who seemed interested I greeted her and walked out from behind the table to speak with her. We talked about a number of the memorials looping on the monitor perched upon the table.

I glanced over and I saw that she had tears streaming down her cheeks. I asked if she was OK and she nodded that she was. I put my arm around her shoulder to offer some little comfort and she leaned against my chest and wept. I asked what was wrong and she looked up into my eyes and said, "If it weren't for you guys, I wouldn't be here!" She went on to explain that her parents were Vietnamese "boat people" who had escaped in a homemade boat, as they could not afford to buy their way on to another. They must have been just children at the time.

She wanted to take pictures of Steve and me and she wanted pictures with us, which her boyfriend, who had just walked up took. I was so overcome with it all that I forgot to ask her to send me a copy. So, Linda, if you see this, please send me a copy of the pic of the three of us together.

Steve was given a Flag of Valor recently and we proudly hung it behind our table. You can see it in the first pic.

There was so much more at the LZ, I saw a TV camera rolling through, seemingly, photographing everything, so I hope the MPT is making some kind of a documentary that perhaps we will be able to see in the near future.

I want to congratulate Maryland Public Television and all the many people who worked tirelessly to make this event a reality.

Next time, I will get back on track with the promised post from North Carolina, so check back on the 29th, as always, at 9:00am.

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

Sunday, June 19, 2016

New York IX

About an hour or so south (and a little east) of Buffalo is Salamanca.


They have a beautiful Veterans Memorial Park here and many are honored and remembered. There are several memorials and seven who were lost in 'Nam are listed on this one.


There are a great number of these stones, about 700 hundred I have read,  with names upon them, but no other information is posted and I could find nothing on line, so, as always, if you know anything, let me know.


The 'Nam memorial has two interesting components. It refers to the war as the Indo-China War, which is not unheard of, but rare on memorials.


The other is the remembrance of all those from other nations who gave their all for the effort, too.


The park is located at 520 broad Street and has many recreational activities open to the public.

Next time, on the 24th, we will drop in again to North Carolina,
so join me there, as usual, at 9:00am.

To see other memorials from New York, or any other state, click the state name on then left side off this page.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New Mexico XI

I am told that the New Mexico motto, "Land of enchantment" is derived from the awesome beauty of the Las Cruces area. driving down from Santa Fe, this claim would be very hard to dispute.

The memorial here is a multi-war memorial in that it honors all from the area regardless of what war or time in which they fought.


It sits in a large park like area that is clearly still under construction. I read very recently that a chopper has been added to the Vietnam portion of the site and I hope to get back in the not too distant future to re take some photos.


Sections of the large circular wall are marked for the various encounters and as is often the case, the term of the war is interpreted slightly differently. I do not know why this particular one has it beginning in February of 1961, but usually that indicated when the first casualty from the area occurred.


An attempt to tell our story, to try to explain, is not uncommon, either. They are all a little different, I guess, perhaps unintentionally, exposing the beliefs and biases of the writers. If you read any number of them, you recognize that we are still struggling to find the truth. I once told a reader not to be too hard on her teachers because they were not comfortable talking about 'Nam. I told her that it may take several generations to finally come to some kind of agreement about what happened, and that we may never actually get it right.

One of the the things I have run across occasionally is an attempt to blame the whole thing on Kennedy. Revisionist history at its worst. We may never really know what Kennedy might have done, one way or the other, but here are a few demonstrable facts.

President Eisenhower sent the first American soldiers into Vietnam in 1954.

The first American solder was killed in 1956.

When J.F.K. took office, there were between 18,000 and 22,000 American troops in Vietnam, depending on whether you count support troops in bordering countries. 

So, this is exactly my point, the discussion, the arguments, etc., will go on and on until some agreement is come to about "what to leave in and what to leave out" as Bob Segar might say. Seeking and finding the truth is a long and perilous journey.

Finally, I don't usually include other wars on this site, but while I walked around this large and magnificent setting, I came across the following. It gave me pause. 'Nam vets have long spoken about being forgotten, ignored, and disrespected but I had not known that some of our brothers from other wars shared some of these feelings. So, I include this, with respect,


This might be an appropriate spot to remind you that if you click on a picture it will enlarge for easier viewing.

The Veterans Memorial Park can be found at 2651 Roadrunner Parkway

Next time, on the 19th, I will be presenting pictures and stories about these memorials at LZ Maryland at the state fair grounds in Timonium, so if you are in the area, stop by booth 108 in the Exhibition Building and say hello. I will be there all day Saturday and Sunday until 3pm. There will many other amazing things to see and do, so join us, if you can. If you can't check back here for a post from New York, as always at 9:00am.

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





Thursday, June 9, 2016

New Jersey IX

Just outside the Capt. James Mac Farland American Legion Post #79, among a few others, sits this memorial to the eight from Burlington, New Jersey who paid the ultimate price in 'Nam.


It is located at 540 High Street in Burlington.



In the last couple of posts, I have had a story to tell or an event to report on, but sometimes, there just is not too much information available to me. I think there is always a story, the trick is finding it. On this occasion, I have found very little about this memorial. Obviously these men were lost and honored by their local American, Legion, their families, their friends, but I just cannot find anyone to tell their story to me. 

So, it will have to suffice to honor them here, with few words, and maybe that is all it takes. After all, what more needs to be said that is not here upon this marker.

 


Next time, on the 14th, we will take another look in New Mexico,so, join me there at 9:00am.

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

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Take Me Home Huey

I had the very great honor and privilege to be invited to visit the Marine Corp Museum in Quantico (Triangle, Va)., to help welcome the Take Me Home Huey project.



The Huey was shot down on a rescue mission in 1969 during which two of the crew were lost.

Steve Maloney working with Light Horse Legacy endeavored to mark the recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam war with a project that might help bridge the gap between 'Nam vets and society, and bring greater awareness of and assistance to veterans suffering with PTSD)*

The project which includes not only the chopper but, also, a dedicated song and a documentary is in the process of traveling the country for the next three years.

After it was refurbished and re-skinned, Steve covered the bird with iconic symbols of the things G.I.'s longed for while waiting to be taken, often in part by a Huey, back home, back to "the world."





An interesting feature of the project is the unusual use of "parts" from the Huey, left as they might have been found all these years later.




The two crew members lost on that final rescue mission are commemorated on the chopper's skids.



Inside, there is this metal box that is becoming a time capsule. I was asked to contribute something to it and I consider this quite an honor. I spent a lot of time wondering what might be appropriate and finally it dawned on me that a copy of the documentary made about Vietnam vets from my community might be just the thing. The documentary called, Honor and Gratitude, can be found elsewhere on this site or on YouTube, if you are interested. Seven 'Nam vets were interviewed and perhaps it will be interesting or enlightening to those who open the time capsule 50 years from now. I must admit, I wonder if they will have any old technology around to play it, but I am optimistic.



I arrived early on the day before the actual events and was thrilled to see hundreds and hundreds of bikers rolling in, one contingent of the hundreds of thousands that will participate in Rolling Thunder on Sunday, the 29th. I had to wait quite some time to let them get into the parking area before I could follow.



This it turns out was a happy coincidence for them. They were on the Ride to the Wall and they always stop at the museum, but did not know the chopper would be there. I spoke with many and they were from all over the country, North Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico and Arizona. I met others from Washington State.

Many wanted pics with the Huey and I was very happy to help them out with that, In got to use a whole bunch of different cameras.  All in all a lot of memories were shared, it was very moving.

This is a pic of Steve Maloney, the artist, and yours truly.



A group of, mostly Native American, vets from Yakima Washington happened to be here, too. This gentleman is nearly 84 years old and served in both Korea and Vietnam. When he heard that I had visited the memorial in Yakima last October, he gave a very nice Washington State Welcome Home pin to add to those on my cap.



I had another experience that was new for me. I was talking to the son of one of the principles in the project, I am guessing he was a High School student. He was showing me a hat pin someone had given him. He was saying how much he liked it and wanted to start a collection.I was really impressed with this, so I pulled my 50th Anniversary pin off my hat and said, "Here, now you have two." His dad came over and very gently, yet firmly, said "No, those are only for 'Nam vets." and handed it back to me. I had not actually been aware of this and I feel a little badly for setting this young man up for disappointment. I apologized to him, he seemed OK.

The next day the exhibit was officially open to the public. Many people had the opportunity to see the chopper, talk to Steve and his partners, visit with the crew and families and revisit a part of our past, our history, that we are still trying to explain, understand and learn from. ABC news was there is the person of Jay Korff who spent much time talking to many who were involved and shooting film for a project on which he is working. all in all, I think this was a remarkable event and I want to thank Steve and all his crew and Light Horse Legacy for allowing me to participate in my small way.

* (I had the opportunity on Tuesday evening to hear Mike Love, of the Beach Boys, speak about how Transcendental Meditation is being used by vets to help with their PTS. (PTSD))


Next time, on the 9th, we will visit a small town in New Jersey. so, as I always ask. please join me there at 9:00am.

To see other Vietnam memorials from all around the country, please click on any state name on the left side of this page.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Update

I have spent this Memorial Day weekend at the Marine Museum in Quantico, Va honoring the visit of Take Me Home Huey, a remarkable project of restoration and healing. I hope by the next post, the 4th of June, to have a very special post prepared. Be watching for it.

In the meantime you can find them on Facebook and Google+ or at their own site.
http://takemehomehuey.org

 Back to our regularly scheduled post.

I received this from Betsy Luecking of Montgomery County Veterans Affairs Committee, who forwarded it from Secretary Chow of the Maryland Veterans Affairs Office. It is not original, some parts are more powerful than others and it has been around a while, but the sentiments are spot on.


Stop Saying "HAPPY Memorial Day"
By Jeff Seeber

I hope I live long enough to be able to get through the month of May just once without some moron sending me a Happy Memorial Day e-mail or hearing some idiot wishing people a Happy Memorial Day.

It's bad enough I'm reminded every May and every November that very few Americans know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but expecting me to remain silent about the growing trend to turn Memorial Day into some sort of celebration is asking too much. I usually chagrin and bear it, but I'm getting too old to care who I piss off from one day to the next, so if you're one of those fools who sends me a Happy Memorial Day e-mail or wishes people a Happy Memorial Day, listen up!

There is nothing Happy about Memorial Day. That's why it's called M-e-m-o-r-i-a-l Day! Memorial Day is to be commemorated, not celebrated. Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of quiet reflection, remembrance, tribute and rendering honors to those who have given their lives ensuring you nitwits can have the freedom to be able to take full advantage of the rights their deaths secured for you, one of which is the freedom to make ignorant statements like Happy Memorial Day.

Believe it or not, Memorial Day was not placed on calendars to remind you that summer has officially begun. Memorial Day is not the first day of Get Drunk While Pretending To Be An Outdoorsman At Your Cabin season. Memorial Day was not created by General Motors so their dealerships could have a Three-Day Used Car Clearance Blowout. Memorial Day is not intended to be the first day of National Burn That Burger Month.

Memorial Day is supposed to be commemorated on May 30th ... not May 28th, May 29th or May 31st. It makes no difference what day of the week the 30th falls, that's when Memorial Day is supposed to be observed. However, the United States Congress changed the date in 1971 to the last Monday in May to give Americans yet another 3-day weekend. After all, what's more important ... one-hundred-plus years of American tradition or giving Americans one more 3-day weekend to have a few brewskis while driving to see Yellowstone with the wife and kids?

The National Moment of Remembrance was started to encourage all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. Of course, it's been a dismal failure. I mean, c'mon, you expect Americans to pause for an ENTIRE MINUTE to remember those who died serving the people who are too busy to pause for ONE ENTIRE MINUTE? Are you nuts?

It's bad enough American Civics is no longer taught in American schools. It's bad enough most Americans ignore Armed Forces Day. It's bad enough that very few civilians know that May is National Military Family Appreciation Month. It's bad enough few Americans understand that Veterans Day is now intended to honor all those who have worn a uniform serving in this nation's Military, especially those still living. But it's pitiful that most Americans can't seem to comprehend that Memorial Day is the one day a year when we are asked to remember those who gave their lives for this country.

Let me repeat that ... they gave their LIVES. Most of them were teenagers or in their twenties. Many of them left behind a spouse after being married for a very short period of time. Some of them left behind infant children who grew up never knowing one of the two people who brought them into this world with the good fortune of being born a free person. All of them had plans for a full and long life, but they interrupted those plans because they knew that serving their country, and the risks that commitment entails, was more important than life itself.

Their dreams and their expectations ended suddenly on a battlefield in some foreign land, or in a training accident at home or abroad, or during a secret mission to ensure this country is not attacked without warning. Some of them are buried in unmarked graves on foreign soil or rest forever in the sea. Some became missing in the fog of war and will never be accounted for.

Is it too much to ask that Americans pause for one day every year to recognize those who gave the last full measure of devotion? Are we as a nation so selfish, so lazy, so ignorant of the reality of the price of freedom, that we can't set aside even one day to acknowledge the sacrifice of each and every one of our honorable dead? Apparently it is too much to ask. Apparently expecting Americans to relinquish even one day of basking in the sun while swilling beer is too much of an imposition. Let's face it, most Americans prefer a Happy Memorial Day.

For those of us who served, and for the families and friends of those who gave their lives, Memorial Day will always be the one day a year when we publicly honor our buddies, our brothers, our sisters, our sons, our daughters, our fathers, our mothers, our nieces and nephews, our cousins ... all those who perished, their young lives cut short, while serving America ... while fighting next to us ... while protecting you. The rest of the year, we remember them in private. We remember them daily. We will never forget them.

To simplify all of this:

Armed forces Day, the third Saturday of May and it honors those serving.

Memorial Day, Last Monday in May and it honors those that died while serving

Veterans Day, November 11 and it honors those who served.

Just a little more from the more recent wars;

WWI                                                  116,516
WWII                                                 405,399
Vietnam                                                 58,315*
Gulf War                                                    294                                
OEF                                                        2229                               
OIF                                                         4480                            
Total                                                     558,233    ( This number is not complete and will continue to grow as new names are added to The Wall and other lists.)

1775-Present                                1,254,664  
                                    
* Eight names were added to The Wall in May 2016 bringing the total to 58,315.



Next time, on June 4th, check back to see some great pics of Take Me Home Huey and learn some of this remarkable story. See you at 9:00am.

To visit memorials in any state, click the state name on the left side of this page.