Monday, May 31, 2010

Thank you

First, I want to thank Monica Hesse for writing this story and her commitment to get it right. We spoke as recently as yesterday trying to ensure that the details were correct. And, I want to thank the Post for running the story and Steve Luxenburg, the reporter I met on the plane, for getting it all started to begin with. I want to thank everyone who joined, commented, forwarded, Face-booked (?) or otherwise got in touch with me about the story. It is gratifying to know that people are looking and care enough to get in touch. I have heard from folks in Afghanistan, Korea, other writers and photographers, and also, people who have told me they are learning things they never knew! As a retired educator, you cannot imaging how much THAT means to me.

The only corrections to the story are that I returned from 'Nam in April of 1968, not long after the well documented Tet Offensive and the Mississippi memorial is in Ocean Springs, a few miles east of Biloxi.

Note to SJM3091 on the Post site, and anyone who posted a response on my site but did not leave an address, email me at, I would love to talk to you.

For anyone who may have missed it, you can find the Post online version of the story here;

The text of the online version is identical to the print version, but they have included additional photos.

On the Post site there is also a place to leave and/or read responses to the article. Some are supportive, others, not so much. I am amazed at the need to continue fighting the war. I had hoped that we were beyond that, by now. My goal was to help some vets heal and others, who are not vets, understand a little better the impact of the war and its aftermath on its veterans.

Pennsylvania V

As stated before, Pennsylvania seems to have no "official" state memorial. That not withstanding, I have been to many beautiful sites within the state, some of which you may have seen here if you are a long time reader. This one, in Pittsburgh, would get my vote as the official site because it lists no names and addresses larger issues such as Welcome Home, POW s, and prayers for all that were lost or missing. Thus, it seems more universal or inclusive than the others, no matter how moving and beautiful, that I have visited.

It sits on a river walk area near the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates stadiums, in fact, you can just see the corner of one of them in the first picture.

The shape is described as taken from an Hibiscus flower pod, which has special symbolism in the Vietnamese culture. It represents "rebirth and regeneration symbolizing the warriors return to peace and the beginning of healing the scars of war."

The statues are of solders being welcomed home by family and loved ones. A theme repeated throughout the site. One by his wife and child and the other by his Mother.

The poem is self explanatory and if you look very carefully at the final picture, you can see two of the wind chimes incorporated into the structure. It is said that each time one of these chimes, it is a prayer for the soul of a lost soldier.

I will include a couple of more photos in the next post, tomorrow.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Today, as we gather with friends and family to celebrate Memorial Day, let us not forget the reason. Memorial Day began after the Civil War, as Decoration Day, and has gone through a number of changes over the years. What does not change is the devastating price paid by so many. I found this sign in Heck Park in Monroe County, Michigan. I have written about the Park in previous posts, but I wanted to post this image on this day, May 30. Today is the original Memorial Day and even though we celebrate it, now, on the last Monday in May, May 30 will always be the "real" memorial day for many of us. The sign is old enough that nothing after Vietnam has been included, but it still delivers a sobering message.

Take a minute today to remember and read a fascinating history of Memorial Day at;

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Washington Post article

Another exciting thing has happened!

Returning from Michigan recently, I found myself sitting with a couple returning to Washington, too. We struck up a conversation which covered a number of topics including my work on this project. It turned out that he is an editor with the Washington Post and he was very interested in my journey. He pitched the story at the Post the next day and they agreed. They arranged for a story to be done on the efforts I am making to visit and write about these memorials. In addition, they asked to use some of my photos in the story. The graphics department told me they may use some in the print edition and others in the online edition, so, you may want to check out both.

A reporter, Monica Hesse, accompanied me, and my buddy Steve, to Pittsburgh, the first leg of my most recent trip. We met up with a photographer there, Randy Jarosz, who took many shots during our time in the city, so his pics will be featured, too.

The story will appear in the Post over the Memorial Day weekend. Ms Hesse said they are aiming for Memorial Day, itself, but that it was possible that it could appear on the Saturday before the holiday.

So, if you would like to check it out, you can get the Post or check it out on line at;

As usual, I would love to hear what you think.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Michigan V

Michigan, like some others I am finding, has at least two major Vietnam Memorials. This one located in Island Park, in Mt. Pleasant, was built by vets. Completed in several stages, it now includes a wall of names of those KIA/MIA, a number of flags and the aforementioned statue,"War Cry." The park and the memorial sit on the Chippewa River and the first completed component of the site was a bridge connecting the site to the ball fields on the other side of the river. The other parts of the memorial were added over time.

Listed on the wall are the 2654 KIA/MIAs from Michigan. One of the things that is unique (at least this far) is that both Michigan sites list all the names of those lost or unaccounted for at this time.

The statue is the same one mentioned earlier where I met a vet "giving my brother a drink" which led to the visit to and signing of the Jeep he and his "brother" dedicated to all vets. If this is your first visit to this site, scroll back a few posts and you will find this wonderful story.

This memorial was built before the one at the state capitol in Lansing and thus is the "memorial" the one in Lansing is called the Michigan State Vietnam Monument. I will post on that one very soon. It too is a great site.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Interview With Ohio Veterans Memorial Park

Just a quick note to let you know that I was recently interviewed by the great folks from the Ohio Veterans Memorial Park. It was really a cool thing to have happen and I really am grateful to have been able to participate.

If interested, you can check it out here;

Posts about this great site in Clinton, Ohio will be up shortly, so watch out for them.

I would be interested in hearing what you think.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Michigan IV, Heck Park II

Here are the pictures I did not post on the last page. They include additional photos of the memorial itself, the clergy site (note that Chaplains were dubbed "Sky Pilots") and a plaque and a tree dedicated to POW/MIAs.

There are bricks around the walkways dedicated to any number of veterans, among these are stones to George A. Custer, Rolling Thunder and any number of individuals.

This is a great park and, again, if in Michigan, please visit, it covers a lot of territory!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Michigan III, Heck Park

The Monroe County Vietnam Memorial (not too far from Detroit) is named for Army Captain Norman W. Heck who was lost in action in 1964. This park is interesting because the people of Monroe County chose to build a memorial to all who served, and an adjacent memorial to all who perished or are MIA. In addition there is a separate memorial to the only remaining MIA from the county. Further, there is a memorial to the ever growing number of those who have perished as a result of their service and sacrifice long ago. These memorials are becoming more common as we age and the aftermath of agent orange (currently, Diabetes and 21 kinds of cancer) become recognized and take their toll as the "wounds that never heal."

The site consists, also, of two era choppers, (Huey and Cobra), the tribute to women mentioned earlier on this site, a memorial to Clergy, and the "Chained Eagle" representing the need for a full accounting of POW/MIAs.

A unique feature is that the Clergy memorial depicts an impromptu "alter" of stacked C-ration boxes.

In an effort to make the park more family friendly, a museum has been added and a playground and picnic area. The museum was closed on the day that I visited.

You can find additional details here;

The address is;

Captain Norman W. Heck Park
1095 North Dixie Highway (near Interstate 75)
Monroe, Michigan 48162

This is a lovely and fitting tribute to Captain Heck as well as all others who served and I recommend that you visit if in the area.

As I posted the pictures from this site, I realized that I have many more than is allowed per post, so I will post the others on the next page.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pennsylvania IV

I really liked this memorial, so I decided to include it, even though it does not precisely meet the criteria of Vietnam Memorials.

The Prospect Hill Cemetery, in York, Pa. built this site to honor anyone who had been awarded the medals of Valor. It sits high on a hill overlooking the cemetery. The most intriguing component, I suppose, is that the lintel across the top is an actual piece of the World Trade Center. So, you might say that the site also pays homage to the 9-11 victims and heroes, as well.

You can find more information at;

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pennsylvania III

Not far from York is a town called Red Lion and I had heard that there was a memorial there. I went to the city offices and they directed me to the town Veterans Memorial. It is one, like so many is smaller towns, that is dedicated to all veterans.

While I was talking to the extremely helpful woman at the offices, she asked if I had seen the Court of Valor, at the cemetery, in York? I was not familiar with it so I went back to check it out. Perhaps I will post some pics of it in a later post.

Red Lion lost three loved ones in 'Nam and their names are inscribed on back of the monument, which stands in a city park.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pennsylvania II

I returned to Pennsylvania and went to York, Pa. because I had heard of the new memorial built there. It turns out that it was dedicated on October 3 of 2009. When I arrived there was a gentleman there and we started talking and he told me that he had just taken over the Memorial Committee Chairmanship two days earlier.

He walked me around the memorial pointing out features that one might not have noticed otherwise. For example; the eagles on top were actually created for a different memorial, but when the originators of that memorial backed out on the artist, the Vietnam committee grabbed them up to add to this site. In addition, he told me that when the wind blows hard enough, it catches the wings of the eagles and actually move them into different positions atop the memorial.

He showed me where one soldier's name had been misspelled on the pylon and rather than try to correct it (impossible) or ignore it, they re-carved the name on the other side of the pylon. I think that is just classy!

He showed me where they had just repaired some vandalism and pointed out the last commemorative bricks that had just been placed the day before. Additionally, he explained that one of the figures in the triad is a woman, a nurse, as depicted by the fact that she is wearing no hip gear, as are the two soldiers.

The third picture here is the reflection of some of the commemorative bricks in the base of the memorial

I particularly liked the stones at each entrance admonishing all who enter; "This is hallowed ground, tread respectfully"

This is a beautiful site that is located at the York Fair Grounds and is well marked through the city, so it is not difficult to find. The gentleman, also, told me that they are in the process of making the site more accessible to those with health issues of one kind or another.

Good job, York!