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.