Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Great cars in Iowa

I hope every one had a great holiday and in keeping with my "Holiday break" I thought I would post these pics of a small car show I happened on to while in Waterloo, Iowa.

This seemed to be simply a group of enthusiast meeting in the parking lot of a local building. There was no competition, or paid admissions , or any stuff for sale. Just the enjoyment of these classic cars.

Enjoy, I'll be back with more memorials the first of the new year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Something a little different today.

As it is the holiday season, and for me that means trains under the tree, I thought I would post these pics of these engines. They welcome you into Nebraska. As I was leaving Council Bluffs I could not help but stop and see these.

These are among the largest engines ever built. They commemorate the joining of the east and west by the railroads and they are located in a park dedicated to John Cooper Kenefick, a long time leader of Union pacific. I had only been vaguely aware that the westward movement of this famous story of the race from San Francisco to Ogden, Utah began in Omaha.

So, for all you train fans out there, enjoy and Happy Holidays!

I'll write about Nebraska Vietnam Memorial sites in the near future

The Virtual Wall

I am humbled and very proud to announce the this site, A Means To Heal, has been added to the "Healing" section of The Virtual Wall project. I will, shortly be reciprocating and adding a few other links to this site, so that you can check them out, also. Watch for them in the very near future.

If for some reason you have not seen the Virtual Wall site and would like to check it out, go here;


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Iowa VII

My friend at the Iowa Veteran's Cemetery directed me to Parkersburg, Iowa. A brand new veteran's memorial was dedicated just this past Memorial Day. While it is not specifically a Vietnam site, the names of those who served in "Nam take up several panels on the stone fixtures. The site attempts to list all veterans who ever served from the area. They are not listed in chronological order to allow for late additions. You will note that several names of Vietnam vets were added to the back of one of the markers.

The site includes a chopper that looks very 'Nam like to me. It had to be moved slightly from its original site and is tilted due to a tornado that came through.

It is located on the corner of Miners and Colfax Streets adjacent to the Parkersburg Veteran's memorial building and the Oak Hill Cemetery.

The next post is Council Bluffs, a name that just rings with history!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Iowa VI

Heading for Des Moines, to the Capitol grounds, I happened to see the sign for the Iowa Veteran's Cemetery. I figured I'd take a chance and see if there was anything there.

As luck would have it, I found this marker. For reasons still unclear to me, I wandered into the administration building at the site. There I met this really great person. She spent at least an hour with me talking about my project and about what they do at this site.

While I was there a woman came in wanting to know how to make arrangements to have her late husbands ashes interred at the site. My new friend explained that the Cemetery had no rules regarding what kind of a container was placed inside what they call "The Wall". Only that it would fit and that one should consider if they, too, would like to join their loved one later and to allow for that when choosing the vessel. She said that she had seen jewelry boxes, vases and even a Harley-Davidson gas tank used as containers. We both got a smile out of that as we had just been talking about bikes and Patriot Guard.

She directed me to another site that I had never heard of before. So, twice in one day I had discovered sites previously unknown. I have learned, now, to try to leave some time open on each trip just for such lucky occurrences.

The new site is the newly dedicated Veteran's Park in Parkersburg and it will be my next post.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Iowa V

I almost missed the exit for Freedom Rock. I stopped at a visitors center that was unmanned, so I asked a trucker and he told me the exit was about 20 miles further on. I headed out and from the left lane saw the sign for the exit coming up fast! It was the next exit (after the visitor center) and I had a little trouble getting over but it was well worth it!

It seems that in 1999, a 19 year old student wanted to do something patriotic. So, he began painting patriotic scenes on a large rock in the area. The rock had been sitting for years after failed attempts to move it. It had become known as the "graffiti rock" because so many people had been leaving messages of one kind or another on it for so long. His first mural was a rendition of the Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. Interestingly, no one painted over it or marked it up in any way. It was immensely popular and he was asked to do more murals by local citizens and vets. As time went on, he painted more and more scenes often covering over previous ones. In 2006, he was working on a Vietnam themed scene when some vet bikers, on their way to The Wall in D.C. arrived and wanted to spread the ashes of their 'Nam vet buddies at the site. The artist suggested that they would just blow away and told the vets to pour the ashes into his paint and they would become part of the scene. He also committed to never paint over this particular part of the rock. So, it remains a tribute, a true memorial, forever. The story goes that many others have added ashes to his paint so that when he touches up the Vietnam scene, more and more vets are included for all eternity.

As some of you know, I have been to many, many sites now. I guess about 150. This one, completely unknown to me a few hours before I visited, is one of very few that has completely overwhelmed me. You might notice that the last picture of the small stones is blurred. I did not see that until I got home. The only explanation I can think of is that my hands were shaking as I snapped the pic. This would not surprise me as I had to sit on a nearby bench for a while to compose myself before I could go on. Note, also, the date on the one stone in the center. Someone had left that on the very day that I visited the site, 9/8/10.

You can read more about the artist and his work, here;


He offers a number of The Freedom Rock items for sale to help defray the cost of this ongoing project. So, if you see something you like, help him out.

The Freedom Rock is located approx. 1 mile south of I-80 on Highway 25, approx. 37 miles (59 km) west of Des Moines, Iowa in Adair County.

My next stop was an unscheduled find at the Iowa Veteran's Cemetery.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Iowa IV

While driving through Iowa, I stopped in the town of Atlantic. I inquired about memorials there only to discover that they did not have one. While talking to some of the people there I was told about a project to restore the American Legion building in town. Begun in 1928, it had fallen into disrepair and a group of citizens decided to buy and restore it. While not exactly on topic I thought that it would be interesting to see what they were doing. I went over with a one of the guys and he showed me all through the building much of which is still under renovation. It is one of those great old buildings with engraved friezes around it, a gym/auditorium and lots of other rooms for meetings, large gatherings or whatever. In addition, a museum is being built in the building. You can see the frieze and the names of some famous American battles on the front of the building.

Another interesting note is that they decided to raise funds by selling "dog tags"! These larger than life versions are kept in the building and depending on how much one donates they are designated a rank. Rank goes from Private ($50.00) all the way to General($5000.00) and one can move up or get promotions by donating more over time! I was impressed by how many have joined the ranks and that there are 7 Generals!

If you would like to participate, contact

A.R.I.S.E. (a 502 C3 non-profit)
P.O. box #1
Atlantic, Iowa 50032

In a small room in the basement, he showed me what I'll call a Flag room. It turns out that this man was an upholsterer for his adult life and he had taken on the responsibility of caring for the flags that are left by citizens at a drop off at the site. He repairs and restores those that he can and sees to it that the others are properly disposed of in a ceremony held once a year. the saved flags are used throughout the town and at funerals, as appropriate.

While we had been talking I had told him about my joining Patriot Guard and our efforts to protect grieving families from these nut case protestors that sometimes show up at the fumerals of theor loved ones who have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. He insisted that I take one of the flags that he had restored to use in this effort. Again, I saw thanks! I couldn't be prouder than to have this flag!

Read more about Patriot Guard, here;


Later, he asked me if I had seen "Freedom Rock"? I was not familiar with it so he gave me directions. I will tell the story and post some pics in the next post. It is a remarkable story, one of my favorites, don't miss it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Iowa III

The memorial here is along the river walk. It is beautiful in its simplicity and dignity. It commemorates the 13 lost in Vietnam. It honors these and notes a Medal of Honor awardee, too. The memorial sits at the foot of the 4th street bridge and is across the Cedar River from the town's other memorials.

Waterloo is known for being the hometown of the Sullivan brothers. All five of whom were killed on the USS Juneau during WWII. The town recently celebrated the opening of the Sullivan Brothers Museum.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Iowa II

The memorial in Red Oak, Iowa is in a small municipal park. It is similar to the Wall in D.C. in shape. The names of the six fallen, however, have been individually inscribed upon markers that sit at its base.

Red Oak has a long and distinguished history of service to the country. She has the painful distinction of having lost more sons (per capita) than any other city in America during WWII!

Each Memorial Day, more than 1000 flags fly in the town's Evergreen Cemetery honoring those who are gone.

The town holds services and ceremonies each Memorial Day and Veterans Day in the Park which has memorials to our other conflicts, as well.

The next stop is Waterloo.

Friday, November 19, 2010


The Iowa State Vietnam memorial is located on grounds of the beautiful State Capitol building. Located at 1007 E. Grand Ave in Des Moines, the memorial is to the right and behind the building.

Built in 1984 the semi circular memorial is meant to surround the visitor as they gaze at the 869 names and their own reflection in the polished stone. The names are listed in alphabetical order for ease in finding any particular one. The site is said to be "like the Wall, but different." It is meant to be more approachable, intimate, and less overpowering. I read that there were names added after the fact on plaques but I did not see them when I visited. Also, there is a Field Cross (inverted rifle, helmet) and all service insignias on the reverse of the memorial. It was too over grown to be able to get a good picture.

There is a nice story that the creator of the monument, Tim Salisbury, donated the prize money he won for his design to the memorial fund.

From Des Moines the next site is in Red Oak.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New York IV

An easy drive from Albany is Troy. We found this great site in Riverfront Park along side the Hudson River.

Located near the intersection of 3rd and Front Street, the site is dedicated to the 45 men from Rensselear County who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

The site consists of three components.

First is the wall which styled after a sandbagged bunker. The names of the 45 sons of Rensselear county are ever honored here. In addition, the following speaks to the brotherhood that is everlasting with vets.

"We shall be remembered: As children we played, as men we fought, as brothers we will always be together."

Second is the 10 foot tall statue of three soldiers representing all services and years of the war. Called The Vietnam Experience; Courage, Compassion, Pain, it attempts, beautifully I think, to capture each of these in the warriors depicted here. Note the detail on the dog tags (pic 5). Early participants in the war taped them together to prevent noise while in the bush. Later, the military issued tags with rubber edges for the same purpose. I am always glad to note when someone has done their homework at these sites. The sculptor certainly did on this one.

Third is a forty link chain from a destroyer that served in 'Nam. The links of chain were sold for $1,000 each to raise funds for the site. When I visited, I could find no evidence of the chain and I have no explanation for why it was not there.

Nearby this site are two other interesting memorials. The first is to James Connolly, the Irish Freedom fighter and Labor Leader, who was executed in 1916 by the British for his participation in the Easter Rising. He is noted for saying "Be men now, or be forever slaves" He lived in Troy for a while and is remembered here.

Just beyond that is a statue of the original Uncle Sam (Sam Wilson, 1766-1854) who came from Troy, too. His likeness has become synonymous with our vision of Uncle Sam. The story goes that as a meat packer when he supplied meat to the government he would mark the barrels of meat with a "U.S." which became Uncle Sam and the rest as they say, is history

From here, I move on to Iowa.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

This site, as you know, is dedicated to honoring Vietnam veteran's by visiting, photographing, and writing about memorials to the those who served. Today, however, it seems more than fitting to remember that we are not alone in our service. Our ancestors have earned the respect of us all through all the years of our history. And, now, our children fight in distant lands. They, too, shall be remembered.

Veteran's Day began as Armistice Day. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918 hostilities ceased (an armistice) in The Great War. The peace treaty was actually signed quite sometime later. In 1938 Armistice Day was made a federal holiday and later, after WWII and Korea the name was changed to Veteran's Day to honor all vets of all wars. There are more than 23 million American vets today.

You can find much more information about Veteran's Day here;


I was in Richmond, Virginia and stopped to see the Virginia War Memorial. It is a magnificent site that honors all Veterans. I thought it would be good to include this wonderful site here, too. Expansion of the original 1956 site was just completed this last July. I had stopped by then but could not get any pictures or info as there was too much construction equipment, etc in the area. Today, it is nearly complete and one of the staff kindly showed me all around. The Vietnam portion of the lists of names is etched upon the glass wall of the Shrine of Memory, as it is called. The names from other wars are etched upon the facing stone wall. The statue is called "Memory" and she stands with The Torch of Liberty, an eternal flame, at her feet. She watches over the 11,634 names etched here for all time. The Torch represents "patriotism that is everlasting." The site, also, boasts a Flag Court and Rose Gardens. The Shrine is open 365 days a year with the auditoriums, visitor center and gift shops open 'til 4 pm. It is located on route 1 (621 Belvidere Street) just north of the Robert E. Lee Bridge.

You can find more information here;


I, also, visited Virginia Beach this week and came upon this beautiful memorial to all veterans. It is based upon the ideas of three local high school students who participated in a design contest. It depicts how the world is split by war, and how some pieces of our world, our selves (our humanity?) are lost forever. There are a number of flags, including U.S., Va., all Military Services flags, a special Tidewater Veteran's Flag. A POW/MIA Flag will fly until all are accounted for.

This memorial sits at 1000, 19th street, in Virginia Beach, Va.

There is much more information regarding the memorial at this site;


If you see a vet today, say "Thanks"