Wednesday, October 14, 2009


My name is Mike and I am a Vietnam vet (67-68). I have wanted to visit and photograph Vietnam Memorials in every state for more than 20 years and am finally getting it done.  I want to warn anyone who stumbles upon my musings that I am not a writer or, for that matter a professional photographer.  I am just a guy with a dream to see them all.  I have an odd affliction that manifests itself every time I sit at a keyboard. It seems I grow a few extra fingers, over which I have absolutely NO control. They stick in triple consonants, double vowels and a variety of other punctuation marks and anything they think I may not find. So, to all of you English teachers and photo pros out there, just try to enjoy, OK?

It seems to me that perhaps that fact that I am beginning this writing project today is meaningful somehow. It is October 12th, 2009 and I am driving from Missoula, Montana to Cody, Wyoming, a distance of some 325 plus miles. Many others have said it, but this is some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen.  The mountains are snow covered and there are remnants of recent snow everywhere.  The day is clear and crisp and the temp ranges between 15 and 30 degrees depending on how high you are at any given time. It has flurried a little and old snow is blowing across the road in some places. It is the kind of day that makes one happy to be paying attention!

The Montana Memorial is in Missoula and I have taken a number of pictures, but am not quite happy with the light. It depicts an angel lifting a fallen soldier. It is striking and one of my favorites, so, after I finish up with the one here in Cody, I will head back to Missoula and try different times of day to see if that helps.

My friend John, with whom I used to teach, recently moved to Missoula to work for VISTA for a year, so I have a base of operations with him. Thanks, John!

John and I drove to Idaho Falls on Saturday to visit the memorial there. It is really interesting.  It is a large inverted V, that is supposed to represent the controversy over the war. It has a bas relief plaque of a young woman wrapped in a flag, a soldier, and a POW. It is very unusual to have several views represented at a memorial.  When I was in Idaho Falls 20 years ago, there was a small plaza, next to the Idaho Falls, with several etched and painted scenes representing several wars. It is still there, but in my opinion, the new one is far, far superior.

When I leave the area on Friday, I will have three major state memorials. My original plan was to visit state memorials, but not every state has one.  All the states have memorials, but some are dedicated only to certain cities, counties or areas. For example, Pennsylvania has no "official" memorial, but there are a number throughout the state. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and others each honor their own. So, now I can widen my search and find other interesting ones to visit.

Today, as I drove past Bozeman, MT. I saw a sign saying Veterans Memorial so I figured I would check it out. In the cemetery just off the highway is a replica of the "Wall" in D.C. They have added a map of 'Nam and a bronze (?) sculpture of a pair of combat boots, sitting in front of their "Wall"  A great find!

Well, I think that is going to be it for tonight, I am beat!  More later except to say thanks to my son Sean who has done everything on this blog, except write this post. Without his computer skills, patience, and love, this would not be happening. Thanks Sean, I love you.


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