Friday, February 26, 2010
After visiting Raleigh and Lexington, I headed south to Charlotte. Here, after a little initial confusion, we found the Mecklinberg County Memorial. It is really quite special and is located at 1129 East Third Street, in Thompson Park, in uptown Charlotte.
It consists of a 7 foot high, 270 foot long arced granite wall on which are inscribed the names of all 105 from the area who died in service. In addition, they have panels telling the history of our involvement from 1959 forward, a map of Southeast Asia and poetry by veterans. It is a small park with a number of benches and a walkway along the face of the wall. There were also a number of personal tributes recently left by friends and loved ones.
When the wall was dedicated many citizens, family members and vets were joined by General William Westmoreland, a name well known to all vets.
More information, pictures and map directions may be found at;
Next, on to Columbia, S.C. to a truly beautiful memorial.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
After Raleigh, we went over to the Lexington/Thomasville area to check out the memorial there. We arrived just before sundown, which made for not the best pics, but we got to see the memorial completely alone. In fact, it was closed for maintenance, but we just climbed the barriers and went in.
It is quite a site. A large circular area, created by a berm. The memorial is entered from only one position which directly faces the wall of names. Paths guide you through and several benches are provided for rest and reflection. As you enter you pass the dedication stone which honors the 216,000 from North Carolina who served and the more than 1600 who made the final sacrifice. I read on one source that the number is 1607, but another quoted 1624. The site, which is located in the exact center of the state, has 100 North Carolina River Birch trees planted to represent the county. 58,000 more line the Freeway. I noted that this site was dedicated in 1991, several years after the one in Raleigh. This may explain why there seem to be two "official" sites in North Carolina.
As we were leaving, the lights came on and I was able to capture the moment before it became too dark (pic 4). Some of the other pics here were taken a day or two later when we returned to be able to take our time and do this magnificent memorial justice.
Next we went on to Charlotte, NC. More about this beautiful memorial soon.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
As promised, here is the first of the sites Steve and I went to in North Carolina. In doing my research for this project I have read many reports that another site, near Thomasville, NC is the "official" site, but recently came across contradictory info stating that this site, in Raleigh was the actual "official" Vietnam memorial. I have not been able to determine what the actual truth is. If I get that info, I will post it. If any of you know, please let me know.
Anyway, after reading about this memorial I altered our trip plans so that we could see it. We chanced to meet an interesting guy who is running for the State Legislature. He, too, is a 'Nam vet so we had a lot to talk about.
The statue speaks to the brotherhood formed by soldiers and the dedication to caring for each other that grows from this relationship. I have not seen most of the guys I served with in years, but I know in my heart that it doesn't matter. If we got together tomorrow, it would seem as if we saw each other the day before! While we all acknowledge that war can do terrible things to all involved, it also builds friendships that never die.
The site is on the State House grounds and is marked with flags and Military insignias. The only other marking of any kind at the site is the small plaque honoring General Gray, which was added some time later.
Later, we made it over to Lexington/Thomasville to the site there. More on that next time.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
In a previous post I said that because it would take time (and money, I'm still not sure how I will get to Hawaii! But I will!) to get to every state, that I would, on occasion, write about interesting events or people I meet along the way.
I was recently in North Carolina and South Carolina photographing memorials there. I was traveling with a life long friend (and 'Nam vet), Steve. Steve is a rock hound and on the way home we stopped at a couple of gem mines. The first one was completely closed and the entrance was barred, but at the next one the gate was open. We decided to drive on in and see if anyone was around. We drove maybe 3/4's of mile along a dirt and gravel road until we came to the operation. There was no one around so after looking around a bit we decided to move on, vowing to return when the place was open. Just as we headed to the car we heard someone call out to us. It turns out that the owner and his assistant were on site to prepare to dynamite a new section of the mine. He said we were welcome to hang around and watch! We jumped at the chance and were surprised by how loud and powerful 26 sticks of TNT are! It was awesome!
The owner was more than happy to let Steve get a whole bunch of "rough". This is rock from the site and Steve tells me he found pieces with at least 40 of the 86 different minerals found in the mine. Steve cuts and works the stuff in to a variety of jewelry pieces. The site is famous for Amazonite, a stone that reminds me a bit of Turquoise. As you get familiar with the area, you start to see the minerals everywhere. The owner leaned over and just picked up Amazonite, Garnet, and others as we walked.
The mine, called, Morefield is about 30 minutes Southwest of Richmond, Va. in a town called Amelia. It has been in operation for more than 70 years and the current owners have had it since 1996. They were really great people who came to Virginia from Alaska to work the mine. He is a mining engineer and has spent much of his life working sites.
It was very interesting to me to learn that they dig down and then at a right angle to the shaft. When that tunnel has played out, they dig down deeper and make a new tunnel. The blast from this explosion actually broke through to a previous tunnel! They are currently at about 65 feet deep.
We were extremely fortunate to drive up when we did as they only blast 2 or three times a year! The occasion is rare enough that the owner had called a couple of friends to witness the event, so we had a really great time meeting and visiting with folks who truly felt like friends by the time we left, several hours after chancing to stop by.
The pictures I have posted did not turn out well, but the first is trying to look down the 65 foot shaft, the second is of the smoke coming out of the shaft after the blast (probably a full two minutes later) and the last is one I tried to take just as the TNT went off. I timed it perfectly. That blur is from how much the earth shook from the blast!
I know it is completely off my topic but it was so much fun and we learned so much from these friendly, knowledgeable people that I cannot recommend it highly enough! If you get a chance, stop by! Steve belongs to a rock and mineral society in our state and hopes to have the group plan a trip to Morefield.
You can visit their website at;
They have lots of info and pics! (Good ones)
I will post about the great memorials we found in North and South Carolina, soon.