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.