Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Jersey 2

These faces remind me of the memorial in D.C. I have beautiful portrait photographs of the D.C. ones that were given to me a number of years ago.

The New Jersey site is also the home of the Vietnam Era Education Center. The building is a short walk from the memorial and serves as a Visitor Center and resource center for anyone seeking info about the war and those who served.

The following is taken directly from the Center's web site.

"The Educational Center was planned to augment the Memorial and help visitors gain a better understanding of the war in Southeast Asia and the surrounding political strife in America. It compliments the solemnity of the Memorial with a dynamic and lively learning environment."

You can find out more info (and I urge you to visit) at;

In addition, the site is home to the Women Veterans Meditation Garden, a beautiful and fitting tribute. The site is a garden area with a variety of flowers and plantings along with benches, peace and solitude.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

New Jersey

The official memorial for New Jersey is located in Holmdel, exit 116 off the Garden State Parkway at the Garden State Arts Center.

One enters the memorial through passages in the berm supporting it, so, once you have entered, you are completely enclosed by the monument. There are a couple of components to the site. There is a striking statue of a wounded soldier being tended by a nurse. He is reaching out to his friend who is nearby. This is yet another example of the recognition of the comradeship between races and genders created by Vietnam. As mentioned previously, this is a common theme at these sites. The statue is shaded by a Red Oak, the New Jersey State tree.

The statue is surrounded by a large circular wall. The wall consists of 366 panels (one for each day of the year) on which are inscribed the names of the 1562 who never returned. Each one is listed on the panel that corresponds to the day on which the hero perished.

A walkway leads one past every panel. That the site is a place for reflection is underscored by the actual reflection of the panels. Being circular creates a never ending reflection of the panels and the visitor, who is now deeply enmeshed in the memorial.

There is also a walkway approaching the monument, many of the stones are marked and engraved with names.

The following was taken directly from the memorial website.

"... The pavilion contains many symbols. Its circular form enfolds the names engraved upon the wall in its embrace. The highly polished granite wall reflects the visitor, creating a special and unique union. The tunnel entrances symbolize the transition from the safety and security of our world to the very different realities of war. The trees lining the walkways to the entrance evoke images of soldiers on tactical road patrol throughout the dangerous countryside. At the center of the pavilion, our official state tree, the red oak, symbolizes the state that many soldiers left and never returned to. The tree gives shade to the returning veterans, sheltering them, while at the same time leaves them exposed to other elements. Finally, the three bronze figures under the tree represent men and women of all races and backgrounds - symbolizing those who came home, the women who served and, those who did not return."

More on this site, soon.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Pennsylvania, like a number of other states, seems to have no "official" memorial. Having said this, I have found that there are several spread throughout the state. This one, in Philadelphia, is just one of a number I hope to see. On my wish list are Pittsburgh, Red Lion and more.

The designer of the Philadelphia site said he hoped to honor the memory of those who had been killed in the war, as well as provide a place of contemplation for those who had returned. To do this, he created two facing walls- a curved one inscribed with the names of all killed in action, facing a straight one engraved with scenes from the war, beginning to end.

The two walls, which create an amphitheater like setting, are composed of polished gray granite, selected by the designer and quarried in Minnesota. The scenes, along with the names, were then sandblasted into the stones' surface.

The Name Panels
The southern wall containing all 647 names is concave and slightly raised in the center. It is placed on a slightly higher plane than the opposing north wall which is inscribed with the various scenes.

The Scenes Panel
Based on sketches by a Temple University graduate student, each of the eight scenes measures seven feet by five feet and is thirteen inches thick. They are arranged in chronological order from left to right and depict scenes beginning with aircraft launching from a carrier (1964) to the fall of Saigon in 1975.

In addition, there are the military insignias, a map of Vietnam and a world map inscribed at the site.

The memorial is located in the Penn's Landing area, at Front and Spruce Streets. This area has a number of memorials and monuments, including a very moving tribute to the Irish, who came to Pennsylvania and worked in the coalmines.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I happened to be in Mississippi when we discovered the memorial. It is located a few miles east of Biloxi in a town called Ocean Springs. It was the very first one I photographed and has lead to all the rest, so it is special to me.

Another thing that makes it special is that it was built at the request of the local Vietnamese community who wanted to say thank you for our efforts in their homeland. The site is, also, dedicated to the 68,000 living vets and states that "... our nation is made stronger by their service, sacrifice, courage, valor and honor."

The memorial consists of an open air building that contains all the names of those who perished or are missing (667, which includes 18 MIA) etched beneath likenesses. A number of the names are below blank spaces where a likeness could not be found. Information on site requests that anyone who might have such a picture forward it to MVVMC for inclusion. It struck me, while there (last Feb), that Biloxi and the surrounding area are still devastated by Katrina and that if all of these names and faces had not been etched into the granite stones, they might have been lost, forever.

The site is located in a small park that has other memorials in it, also. It contains walking paths, benches for reflection etc. In addition, there is a "Huey." It is located on Rte. 90, 3 and a half miles east of Washington Ave and is well marked.

MVVMC may be reached at

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Worcester, Mass is the home to the state memorial. I think it is one of the most beautiful sites I have visited. Located within a larger park, the area consists of a small lake, wooded and open walk ways, benches and plantings. There are three distinct sections of the memorial. they are called the Place of Flags, The Place of Names and the Place of Words.

The PLACE OF FLAGS is a beautifully landscaped, circular monument consisting of three flags: an American Flag, the State Flag of Massachusetts and a POW/MIA Flag. In addition, the dedication marker is located in the is area.

The PLACE OF WORDS displays text etched in granite, taken directly from hand-written letters home by a number of those who died while serving in Vietnam.

The PLACE OF NAMES lists all of the names of Massachusetts residents who died in combat or as a result of wounds received while in action in Vietnam, or are still MIA. This number totals 1327 heroes.

The exact location is on Skyline Drive at Green Hill Park.

Map this memorial.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Maryland 4

Also in Montgomery County, Md is Cristman Park. Located off Rte. 355 in Gaithersburg, the park is in a small community setting. There is a large rock with a plaque telling the story of how Lt. Cristman lost his life in 1965, trying to save his men.

In addition, there is a large, tall, monolithic, rough cut stone, with a plaque inscribed with the names of the eight from Gaithersburg who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Maryland 3

In Montgomery County, MD, there are two memorials. One is located at the County Court House in Rockville and the other in Cristman Park in Gaithersburg. Rockville and Gaithersburg are right next to each other, so if you go to one, you are just minutes from the other.

The Rockville site is simple. A stone with comments about honoring those who served is placed at the foot of a White Oak, the Maryland State Tree. Nearby is a set of flags dedicated to all who have served.

There is a proposed site in the "new" Silver Spring, an area going through tremendous revitalization. When this site is completed, I will post photos and information.

I will post photos of Cristman Park in a few days.

Map this memorial.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Maryland 2

I have found a couple of other sites in Maryland. The first one is in Baker Park in Frederick, MD in a section adjacent to the larger park, called Courts Square. It is located across the street from the National Guard Armory and has memorials to other conflicts, too.

The site consists of a polished black obelisk which has the names and likenesses of those from Frederick that perished. The obelisk is surrounded by panels depicting scenes from the war and one with a poem inscribed. It is an extremely beautiful and moving memorial. This is especially true when one considers that "only" (I use that word very hesitantly and with the utmost of respect and understanding) 22 men were lost.

The last image is in the same location, near the flagpoles, but was placed by AMVETS. You will notice that they define the war era as 1964 to 1975.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located just off Rte. 95, in Middle Branch Park, at the foot of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (formerly the Hanover Street Bridge). There is no sign for the memorial on 95, so you must be watchful.

Dedicated on May 28, 1989, the memorial is a ring of stone with a granite wall. All 1014 Maryland citizens who gave their lives in Vietnam are etched upon it. In addition, the 35 still missing are also inscribed on the stone. The names are listed in alphabetical order, by the month in which they died. The site features two 45-foot flagpoles; one bears the American flag while the other carries the Maryland flag and just below it the POW/MIA flag. Immediately outside the ring of stone are 16 light "spires" representing the years from 1959 to 1975. These years are generally (but not always, as mentioned in an earlier post) recognized as the span of the war.

The memorial became a reality due to the efforts of many Marylanders. A group of vets identifying themselves as "The last Patrol" conducted walks throughout the state. One walk began in our western most county (Garrett) and ended-365 miles later- in Ocean City, at the Atlantic Ocean. Another began at the southern most tip of the state, in St. Mary's County, and ended in the capital, Annapolis. These walks generated much interest, garnered additional support and helped ensure the completion of this project.

The memorial is dedicated to all those who served their country, their state and their fellow citizens with honor.

The exact address of the Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial is; Middle Branch Park, 2825 South Hanover Street, Baltimore, MD 21225.

Update: The official  number of names on the Maryland Vietnam memorial now stands at 1046.

Map this memorial.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Connecticut 2

I like the story of the Coventry memorial so much that I thought I would include more details from the story.

The following is taken directly from the memorial site in Coventry.

"The History of the Memorial

In 2001, inspired by their teacher Thomas Dzicek the students at Captain Nathan Hale Middle School decided not only to identify, but to find out more about each of the Connecticut servicemen who died in the Vietnam War. The project took one and a half years and resulted in a book titled "612," a listing and biography of every State Vietnam Veteran who died in the war. One of those patriots was Spec. IV, Robert Tillquist, a Combat Medic and a Distinguished Cross recipient who died in the Pleiku Campaign on November 4, 1965.

His sister, Jean Risley, of Coventry had become personally involved in their project. She was stirred by their effort but felt a book should not be the final memory, and that a memorial needed to be created to honor these men, to thank them and to welcome them home.

She formed a group called the Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee to raise money to establish a memorial to the 612 Connecticut men who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

While there had been a lot of support for a state memorial over the decades, most proposals failed to take hold. In July of 2006 the Committee started in earnest to contact various attorneys, accountants and Coventry Town Officials to determine the best way to proceed. At a Town Council meeting, she presented her thoughts, plans, and desires for a memorial. The Town Council gave their full support for the project and voted unanimously to provide a site for the memorial. The Town Manager then researched town lands and provided a list of possible choices. The final decision was made on March 13, 2007 to place Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Veteran's Memorial Green in Coventry.

Donation letters were sent to various Veteran's organizations, businesses in Coventry and the general public, including those that had lost someone dear in Vietnam. The support was overwhelming, not only from those in Connecticut, but from other states as well. Fundraisers; including a motorcycle run, dinners given by The American Legion riders and the West Shore Middle School in Milford helped to raise enough funds to put a down payment on the memorial. As the year closed, the site for the memorial was being prepared.

The ground breaking ceremony in August of 2007 was attended by many and the support continued to grow. It is hoped that this memorial will make the Veterans, Coventry and the State of Connecticut proud and remind future generations of their sacrifices. Jean Risley and the entire committee would like to once again thank everyone for their support and to welcome home our Vietnam Veterans."

The newspaper reported that over 400 motorcycles, 1000 people, numerous state and local politicians and a helicopter flyover marked the dedication ceremonies.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I am posting this at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month; the day and time The Armistice was signed (and the day originated), ending WW l. Later it became known as Veteran's Day here in America.

The site in Connecticut has a wonderful story attached. It is located in Coventry, where a middle school teacher wanted his class to know about those who gave their all in the war. He assigned the class to research and write about every single hero from Connecticut, all 612. The class completed the project, which later became a book called 612. No one wanted the project to end. The sister of one of the men in the book carried it further and to eventual completion. The final chapter of the story is the "Wall" that now bears the names of Connecticut's war dead.

The site is located in a small war memorial park, called Patriot's Park or Veterans Memorial Green, which is home to a number of memorials including one to Nathan Hale, the great American patriot, and Coventry's own separate memorial to her own Vietnam dead.

The site, itself, consists of the Wall which is enclosed by etchings of the Vietnam Woman's Memorial and the statue of three soldiers from the site in Washington, D.C. There are flags and a couple of benches available for visitors. As you enter the town from one particular direction it is the first thing you see. Very beautiful and impressive in its dignity and grace.

Map this memorial.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A brief respite

I know that I promised you some pictures from Indiana and Kentucky, but I was unable to make the trip.

On Saturday, Oct. 31, I lost my younger brother Dennis. He was the victim (and he would hate that word) of a catastrophic systems failure. The doctors are unsure of the cause but suspect a major bacterial infection. It is possible we may never fully understand. It happened so quickly. We emailed each other on Thursday, he was admitted to the hospital on Friday evening, and gone by Saturday afternoon. My siblings and I were fortunate to be able to be with him as we all live in the same general area.

Life is full of strange happenings, twists, and turns. Dennis and I were polar opposites on, well, nearly everything. While we might have argued about anything, Denny was a man of remarkable integrity, something I believe is all too rare today. He knew what he believed and actually lived accordingly. He was not influenced by the current "conventional wisdom" or faddish trends. He was a good man and enriched the lives of many with his charity, knowledge and good humor. These are all traits that I find admirable and worthy of great respect and emulation. So, I always felt that we should have been closer and truly wished that we were.

There is a significant difference in our ages and I "get" all the sociological implications of "separate families" etc., but I still wished we were closer. I know we loved each other, but we tended to live separate lives except for holidays, family gatherings, and the like.

Well, (insert life twist here) as soon as I posted my first pictures and thoughts on this blog, he was one of the very first to respond. He sent me an email saying how much he loved it! He went on to say that our parents would be so proud. He told me he remembered what my parents went through while I was in 'Nam, and especially the anticipation on the day I came home. He went on to encourage me to complete the project, no matter what, "for mom and dad." I have learned since that he notified many of his friends, encouraging them to read this blog, telling them he was sure they would enjoy it as much as he did.

I was shocked at the depth of my reaction to his messages, I actually wept. I was in Montana at the time and said to my friend with whom I was staying, "If nothing else ever comes of this blog, I have gotten more than I ever dreamed of". So, for the next couple of weeks, I felt as if we had really bridged a gap, that we had finally found a means to heal, ourselves. I can not think of another thing that means as much to me, now.

I am further encouraged to continue the journey, to complete this project. Not only for mom and dad, but for him. So, please grant me a few days to be with my family and to celebrate my brother's life. I will be back, I have lots more to say on the memorials and want to share it with all of you.

Denny, I miss you and love you forever.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Montana 2

Many years ago I read an article in a local paper that reported on a New memorial in Montana. It had a picture of this great statue. The article went on to say that it was located in Bozeman, MT. On the way home from a trip to Alaska I went to Bozeman only to discover that the monument was actually in Missoula. I have shared pictures of it with you in a previous post. Anyway, on this trip, as I drove past Bozeman, I saw a Veterans Memorial sign. I pulled off the road and was delighted to find that Bozeman now has its own memorial.

Located in a cemetery just off the highway is a replica of the "Wall" in D.C. They have added a map of Vietnam and a pair of sculpted jungle boots to the site. It is quite stirring. It seemed to me that I had come full circle, from not finding one 20 years ago, to this great site. You'll note the snow. It was the first week in October, gray, windy and very cold. Icicles 6 feet long clung to nearby buildings. Somehow, appropriate for the site.

The last picture in this post is from the top and behind the memorial, as if you are standing on top of it. All of the markers here are of Veterans. I thought this a particularly beautiful spot.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Arizona II

The state memorial is located in Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza directly across the street from the Arizona State House in Phoenix. It contains the Vietnam memorial as well as numerous other remembrances, including one to War Dogs.

There are several components to the site. First, there are 10 polished stone pillars. Upon these are inscribed the names of the 616 fallen or missing. Second, there is a table, for lack of a better description, on which are numerous plaques that tell the history of the conflict. Next, there is the statue of one G.I. cradling the body of his fallen friend while a third tries to pull him to safety. The statue is supposed to present the soldier as victim as well as hero! There is a small sign attached to the site which speaks to "In country" vets. I am not sure why this distinction was made between those who served in country or the larger group of Vietnam Era Veterans.

Upon returning to Maryland, I was talking to someone who wanted to know if I had visited the memorial in Tucson!! They told me that it is at the old courthouse in old town. I will certainly get there the next time I am in Arizona. As I have said before, too often these things don’t turn out as reported, but I want to check them out anyway.

This brings up a point I have wanted to make. I would love to hear from anyone who knows more facts or historical info regarding this or any other Vietnam memorial site. In fact I would love to hear from any one who reads these pages. It is the best way for me to know you are out there!

Map this memorial.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I am in Arizona and we have been cursed with a cold front, something that must be endured no matter how disappointing. The temp is only around 82 degrees, brrrr. It was over 90 when we landed Monday night, well after dark.

I drove to Fountain Hills yesterday (10/20/09) to see a memorial I had read about. Later, I wanted to return to Phoenix to re-take some photos there. It was a beautiful day and the drive is about 135 mile to Fountain Hills. Should have been a snap, but with some less than precise directions from Google maps (Hey, Google, there is no exit 16 off Arizona 202 or for that matter no exit 15, or 14) turned it into a much longer than expected 333 mile trek (round trip) and I never did get to Phoenix! That's OK, I am sure I will get back to the area at some time in the not too distant future.

To complete the scene, the monument at Fountain Hills is not a Vietnam memorial. It is a memorial to veterans of all wars since the Spanish American War. It is really a great site and I took a lot of shots, but not really what I was after. Fountain Hills is known for its huge fountain in the middle of its lake. People come from all around to witness the 100 foot plus plume of water that erupts hourly. I happened on to the site right at 2:00, so I got some nice pictures of that, too. Something unique to this site is a plaque bearing the likeness of Bob Hope. He is smiling, wearing a green beret, an Army field jacket, with a golf club over his shoulder. It just says, "Thanks for the memories." which some of you may remember was his tag line. No matter what one might think of his politics, no one can dispute his service to the common soldier. I even got to see his show while I was in 'Nam. What I remember the most is that Raquel Welch was the star traveling with him. She was gorgeous!

Another interesting element is a nearly life-sized statue of an old soldier. He looks to be WW I to me, saluting the three flags on site. (American, POW/MIA and Arizona) As I knelt to photograph him, I thought, in a few years this very old soldier could be one of us, a 'Nam vet.

I met a nice woman who was training her shepherd mix to carry his Halloween jack-o-lantern goodie bucket in preparation for the big day. I wish I had thought to take his pic. He was doing pretty well. He would walk a few yards with it in his teeth, but then drop it. Good thing she started early.

I also met two young Latino men who were there taking photos of the fountain and the memorial. They explained that they had come from El Paso and were in town to see U2, who were playing in Phoenix last night. Talk about "one world" Two Latinos from Texas, in Arizona, to see an Irish band. I love it!!

So, as I've said before, I get to meet a lot of nice folks.

I hope I can figure out a way to authenticate what is a memorial to Vietnam vets and what is not. I am somewhat surprised at how many of these trips have turned out to be not what I thought they were going to be. Yesterday was a very long day and I didn't get any shots of Vietnam memorials. I did enjoy the Fountain Hills site, I'm glad I went, but still...

The first week in November, I will be in Indiana and, hopefully, Kentucky. More then!


PS. A note for my friends and family who may be new (like me) to the world of blogging. If you "click" on the pictures posted with my ramblings, it will enlarge considerably for easier viewing.


Map this memorial.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Upon a little further reflection on Idaho, I thought I would post a picture of the one I saw 20 years ago for comparison. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Twenty years ago, in 1989, I visited the Idaho Falls area. They had a small plaza, for lack of a better description, that had a number of memorials etched into its walls. The etchings were painted with scenes from the respective wars. I didn't really like it very much. so, I was delighted to find that a new memorial had been built.

The new one, as described earlier, is an inverted "V" which is meant to speak to the controversy surrounding the war. It is somewhat unusual (there are some others, more on them later) for memorials to address the varying views about the Vietnam conflict, but to me, it does seem to tell a more complete story. In addition, there is a bronze (?) bas relief of a women wrapped in an American flag (some say she is a female soldier, but her hair looks way too long to me), a soldier and a P.O.W. They are all beneath an eagle in flight. On the slanted leg of the "V" the names of those lost are inscribed. There are 243 names listed. A Vietnam memorial bell in Nampa, ID lists 251. These kind of discrepancies are not uncommon and could be due to a number of reasons. On the opposite side from the bas relief is a map of Vietnam. The site like many others offers a walkway and benches for visitors. It overlooks the river that becomes the Idaho Falls and is quite beautiful.

Another common occurrence is that various places list the duration of the war in different ways. The Wall in D.C. counts the years from 1959 to 1975 as the war years. Others I have seen say it began in 1964, 1965, and 1966. There is no one explanation for these differences. Some say the first combat troops went in one year and others say it was another. Or it may be that the sites are counting from when their first soldier was killed. If I ever get additional clarification, I will report it here.

The first American soldiers (called Advisors, at the time) were sent in 1955. By 1960 there were approximately 18, 000 Americans, whatever they were called in country. The rest as they say (in this case factually) is history. So, I guess there are any number of ways to interpret the length of the war. Most, it seems, use 1959 as that is when the first American is reported to have died for this cause.

On to Arizona!

Map this memorial.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New friends, on the road

As it will take various amounts of time to travel to the remaining states, I will occasionally post about people I have met or other (hopefully) interesting events along the road in an attempt to keep you coming back.

On the trip to Idaho (about which I will blog soon) John and I decided to stay in a Motel 6. This might not have been my first choice under normal circumstances, but we had John's great dog, Reba, with us. So, we needed a place that would welcome dogs and Motel 6 does so and doesn't even charge extra as most others do! Well, the place turned out to be OK. Clean, comfortable beds, but not a whole lot more. No Shampoo, hair dryers etc and towels that were, well, rather spare.

The good news however is that you get to meet lots of other animal people. Always a plus for me.

We met a guy who was traveling with two hunting dogs, blue tick hounds, I think, and two falcons! He had two big mesh cages which allowed the birds some freedom to exercise and fly a bit. The birds were really spectacular and then guy (whose name is lost to me now) was very interesting. He told us about predator birds and explained that he always stays at this Motel 6 because he has come to know the management who now know that he and his zoo will not be any trouble.

We, also, met Lucy from Bisbee, AZ (one of my favorite places) who was traveling with Travis. Travis is a beautiful red/golden retriever. Like the vast majority of these dogs, he was very friendly and most happy to accept all the attention and affection he could squeeze out of the group of us. He, also, loved playing with Reba, they had a great time.

We all stood out in the parking lot, grassy area for quite a long time. Lucy even extended an invitation to visit her and her husband when we are in Bisbee next.

I keep being reminded that this country is full of nice people and sometimes we are just too busy or distracted to notice.

More later. Mike

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The Montana Memorial is located in Missoula in Rose Park. It is one of several monuments on site, but in my opinion it is clearly the most striking.

It depicts an angel lifting a fallen soldier. They have made eye contact and each seems to understand.

The angel is not your typical cherubic, gowned, archetype, but rather a strong rugged looking, bearded male. In fact he seems like one of us, a vet.

The site is bordered with roses and other plants and two large stone walls, in addition to a couple of benches. While I was here, an older couple approached and spent quite some time at the statue. I chose to not interrupt their time and remained in the background, well out of the way. When they had gone, I approached the statue and found that they had left a dozen, beautiful roses at the base.

The walls on either side of the statue list the Montanans, that gave their lives in service, on eight plaques attached to the stones. I have read several items about this memorial and they all have a different number of names cited. I will go back tomorrow and find out which of these, if any, is accurate.

If you find yourself in the area, the memorial is well marked off I-90. As I said before, Montana is just amazingly beautiful and I will miss it after I return home on Friday.

Map this memorial.


I was surprised to find how much the Cody area has changed since I was here 20 years ago.  Then, the Memorial stood alone on the edge of the city with nothing but open plains and mountains behind it. Now, someone has chosen to build WW II and Korean Memorials on the same spot. Not to mention the huge hotel that now shares the access road. What once seemed like a fitting tribute, on the prairie, feels a bit claustrophobic! The new memorials are beautiful, but with all the millions of acres that seem untouched in this part of the country....!  Oh well.

Map this memorial.