Sunday, May 15, 2011


As you may well imagine, in the last couple of years, I have been to hundreds of memorial sites. I love them all. Each carries its own special significance for those honored, their family's, friends and loved ones. In addition each provides healing for a community that not only suffered through the war, but lost its sons and daughters, Mothers, Fathers, brothers and sisters, too.

It is probably not too surprising that these memorial sites can be similar. I, generally, refer to them as some version of the Wall, an LZ, or a group of comrades either on patrol or helping a fallen brother.

So, it was with the the greatest anticipation that I set out to see the memorial in Frankfort, Kentucky. I had read that this site was different and I wanted to be there.

Dedicated in 1988 and overlooked by the State Capitol building, the site consists of a large sundial. The names of the lost are placed so that on the anniversary of their death, the shadow cast by the gnomon (say; noman) touches their name. This creates an individual Memorial Day, each year, for each of the 1103 fallen. Around the perimeter are verses from Ecclesiastes. Many of us will remember The Byrds singing them in Turn, Turn, Turn and they seem beautifully fitting here, also.

So, with all this anticipation, you might well imagine my disappointment when I arrived and found the memorial covered with snow! It was cold, gray, wet and impossible to get good photos. Somewhat crestfallen, I left.

Later, after traveling to Tennessee and Georgia, I determined to return. On this particular day, it was still gray and cold, but the snow had melted so I was finally able to get photos. I am so glad that I returned. It is a strikingly beautiful site. Not only did I get to visit the site, I found the POW/MIA marker further up the hill, under a tree. I, also, saw the MIA's listed at the base of the gnomon, where the shadow will never touch them.

I wondered what happens when an MIA is recovered. I was able to have a nice conversation with the man who designed and built the memorial. He told me that if an MIA is recovered or declared dead, the date of the declaration or recovery is added next to the name. That is why in the photo of those names, only some have a date. On the plaza where all the other names are listed, the first name (1962) and the last name (1975) have had the dates of their loss included, defining the war for Kentucky. Another interesting feature; the stone upon which the MIA names are listed has been finished on both sides. So, when all MIAs have been accounted for, the stone can be turned over, no longer to mourn those lost and unfound.

The designer/Architect added a lot of info on Wikipedia. It explains some of the Geometry and how it all works and you can find it here;

The official site of the memorial is here;

The memorial is located on Coffee Tree Road at Vernon Cooper Lane. It is located near the Kentucky Library and Archives building. There are a number of signs on the road marking the site.

1 comment:

  1. This is amazing, and made me cry. Kentucky has found a beautiful and unique way to honor it's Vietnam veterans. I am particularly touched by the MIA stone.