Saturday, January 30, 2010

Delaware III

I traveled recently to both Kent and Sussex Counties in Delaware. Each, as mentioned previously, has its own memorial. The one in Kent County (Dover) was just completed and dedicated this past Veterans Day. Congratulations to the Vets and others who worked so hard and long to make this a reality. The site is located in a small park area with walkways and benches. It lists the 26 citizens lost on the front as well as graphical tributes to the Woman's Memorial in DC, a chopper and a flag with a rose on it. Coincidentally, there were flowers left at the site very recently, including a black rose. There is also a map of Vietnam and Southeast Asia and the Military Insignias found on so many. As with many others, the bricks that encircle the site can be engraved with the names of loved ones, if one so chooses. To do so, contact VVA chapter 850, c/o Paul Davis, 5233 S. DuPont Highway, Dover, DE 19901 Email: I have talked to some of the guys involved in creating this memorial, the last of the three county sites, and am especially happy to see the completed project because I know they had some difficulties. Once again, congrats guys! This memorial is located on S. Little Creek Rd. at Rte. 113, kind of behind the Airbase Carpet Store.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Delaware II

I ran across this small statue in Veterans Memorial Park. It is located just off Rte. 95, before the Delaware Memorial Bridge, New Castle exit. (Traveling north on Rte. 95 from Baltimore) The site has a number of memorials to other involvements. In fact, this one seems a little inconsequential when compared to others in the park. Perhaps that is due to the fact that the Wilmington site is only a couple of miles away. I was told by the Delaware Historical Society that the Park was part of the Bridge complex, so I contacted them for more info. When I get it I will post any additional details.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Delaware, like others, has no official memorial, but each of her three counties have a memorial. The final one was dedicated, in Dover, this past Veteran's Day. This one, located in Wilmington is dedicated to all 166 Delawareans who perished.

Again, the theme of comrade helping comrade dominates the site.

Each of the heroes names are listed on the base of the monument. In addition, each of the official seals of the branches of the military are prominently displayed.

The memorial is located in Brandywine Park on Washington Street, adjacent to the Zoo. Brandywine Park is, also, the home of the African American Medal of Honor Winners memorial.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Mexico 3

This first picture is of the chapel from a different view. I have read that from some angles it has been described as a "Sail" like structure. This picture makes me think of a plane taking off, perhaps from an Aircraft Carrier.

The inside of the visitors center has a variety of exhibits, a film and other interesting artifacts including books filled with the photos not currently on display. One thing that caught my eye was a poster from the era. It helped me to recall that Americans, in particular, will always find a way to insert humor into even the worst of situations.

The inside of the chapel, as stated before, is very simple, with padded, amphitheater like seating. The slim, ceiling to floor, window looks out at the mountains and allows in a little light. You will note that visitors leave various mementos here, too.

The display area is opposite the window. The picture in the middle is of David Westphall and the others are the ones that rotate throughout the year.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Mexico 2

The site contains additional points of interest. There is a "Huey" which as stated in prior posts is seen fairly regularly. A marker commemorates the fact that Dr. Westphall took soil from the site and spread it in Vietnam at the site of his son's ambush. The day I was there was a day or two before Memorial Day and the marker was covered with mementos from visitors. These were gone a couple of days later when I visited again.

As noted earlier the Walk of Honor is open to anyone who would like to honor a solder. As seen in the picture, the group holds many memories and loved ones.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Mexico

The New Mexico site is one of the first I ever visited, more than 20 years ago. To some degree it was the one that set this whole process in motion. I first saw a news report, many years prior to my first trip about how a father was building a memorial to his lost son. The story said that the father laid every stone for the memorial himself. He wanted to build a place of peace, honoring all involved in the war, no matter which side they were on!

Located about 25 miles east of Taos, through the Carson National Forest, is the ski area of Angel Fire. The Westphall family owned land there that they planned to turn into a resort. After the loss of their son these plans were abandoned and the memorial was built. Dr. Westphall began construction five days after his son, David, was killed. The chapel that Dr. Westphall built is a simple, non-denominational sanctuary where a photo of his son David is always on display. In addition, a number of other photos are rotated each month. There have so many now that individual states are featured each month. The memorial is considered a National Monument and therefore honors all. The site asks that anyone who wishes to do so submit pictures for inclusion in the rotation

Over time the family granted the D.A.V. the right to oversee and continue the growth process. They raised a couple of million dollars and built a visitor center. In time, the center was ceded to the New Mexico State Government, under Gov. Bill Richardson, who have committed to its funding and care.

A story is told that on one particular morning, when staff arrived, they found a handwritten note stuck in the door. It said, "Why were you closed when I needed to be here?" Since that morning the doors to the chapel have never been locked again.

When the site was turned over to the state the family required only three things; that the chapel doors never be locked, that no one ever be charged a fee to visit, and that if the state should decide to no longer be involved that the site be returned to the family.

There are several other points of interest on the site in addition to the visitor's center; a welcome home banner, a statue of a soldier and a Walk of Honor bearing engraved bricks. Because this is considered a national Monument to all, the names of the 400 New Mexican's who made the final sacrifice are not listed, but many are included on the Walk of Honor. The bricks that comprise the Walk are dedicated by family or friends and are placed on the ever expanding path periodically. In addition, Dr. and Mrs Westphall are now interred in a small fenced grave yard adjacent to the Chapel.

This is a most peaceful and beautiful place that looks out over the valley created by surrounding mountains and a ski resort which, to me, emphasizes the tragedy of the Westphalls and thousands of other families.