Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas 2011

It is Christmas eve and I hope that you, your family and your friends and loved ones are celebrating in some way. Regardless of religious belief, or lack of it, this is traditionally a time of year for celebration and renewal. From time beyond our memory, people have celebrated the renewal of the light, the return of the sun at this time. The ancient Celts, the Romans, the Greeks and countless others all over the planet have found a way to have hope at the darkest time of the year. I hope you and yours have hope, peace and a joyous season, whatever your belief.

The pictures here are from a very recent weekend (December 2-5) in New Mexico. I hope you enjoy them.

Be sure to remember our brave men and women who are not able to be with their loved ones at this time of year. I remember how hard it was to be in 'Nam during this season of hope, joy and renewal.

Monday, December 19, 2011

California VIII

Located very near Seal Beach, just south of L.A. is the town of Westminster. Since the town has the largest Vietnamese population in Orange County, it is not surprising to find a beautiful memorial here or to learn that it was designed and sculpted by a Vietnamese (Tuan Nguyen) who escaped from a "reeducation" camp in 'Nam. After walking to Cambodia, he eventually made it to the U.S.

Said to be the first in the country to honor both American and Vietnamese soldiers this magnificent site boasts a 12 foot statue of each, an eternal flame, fountain, rose garden and the flags of both the U. S. and the Republic of Vietnam. There are a number of dedication pavers around the site and the various signs are in both Vietnamese and English.

Dedicated on April 27th, 2003, the memorial stands in Sid Goldstein Freedom Park. The park is located at 14180 All American Way. There are several government buildings on this street and thirty minute free parking.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

California VII

Far west of Riverside, I went to a place called Chiriaco Summit. In the middle of the desert the temp was 117 degrees and I wondered," why is there a monument this far into this desolate place?" Well, the monument, called "Wall West" by many is located at the George S. Patton Museum. This still begged the question for me; why was the Patton Museum out in the middle of nowhere?

As students of WWII will probably know, Chiriaco Summit is where the General set up his desert training sites for the war in Africa. In thousands of square miles in California and Arizona (yes, I was practically in AZ) the US trained its tank and desert warfare fighters. It is said that the tracks from tanks etc. can still be seen in the sand after all these years.

I have been unable to find out why the West Coast Vietnam Wall was placed here, but someone at the museum told me that the board of Directors wanted to honor Vietnam vets, they had the space available and so it was done.

This memorial, like some others, honors all who served and you can arrange to have your name or that of a buddy, unit, etc added for as little as $10.00. There are plenty of spaces still available.

You can see from the plaques that a number of approaches can be used. As a member of Patriot Guard, I am always proud to see that we are represented.

We all know the Wall in DC and I have written, previously, of Wall South in Pensacola. Fla. and now Wall West. You may be surprised to know that there is, also, a Wall North! I promise to write more about this one in the not too distant future.

Go here, if you would like to know more or arrange a name placing on Wall West;

Friday, December 9, 2011

California VI

As promised, the following pictures are of the National POW/MIA Memorial in Riverside, California. The following was taken, verbatim, from the National POW/MIA website

"The Prisoner of War/Missing in Action National Memorial was designated as a national memorial by the U.S. Congress through Public Law 108-454 on December 10, 2004. Vietnam veteran Lewis Lee Millett Jr., sculpted the bronze statue which depicts an American serviceman on his knees with hands bound by his captors. The statue is surrounded by black marble pillars that evoke imprisonment. The memorial was formally dedicated at Riverside National Cemetery on September 16, 2005. It stands in honor to all American prisoners of war and those listed missing. (bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith) "

This, for me, was a very difficult site to visit. The plight of thousands upon thousands of soldiers tells the story of man's inhumanity to man. I have read that since the Revolutionary War, 188,000 are unaccounted for, and most probably never will be!

While this memorial honors ALL, I guess I will always see it as a 'Nam memorial. The fact that it was sculpted by a 'Nam vet and the presence of the POW/MIA flag which came from the Vietnam War adds to that feeling for me. I found an interesting site about the flag and you can read the interesting and touching story of the POW/MIA flag here;

Sunday, December 4, 2011

California V

Those of you who follow this blog will remember that in July (7/29/11) and August (8/18/11) I wrote extensively about a memorial created by Tom Schomberg and later commissioned and placed by Tom Kane. The initial placement, you will recall, was at a church in Denver and later in Ireland to commemorate the visit by the traveling Wall.

I promised, at the time, to tell more of the story at a later time. Well, I have now visited the third and final placement of this beautiful and haunting memorial.

The National POW Memorial is located in the National Cemetery at Riverside, California. Located about 70 miles east of Los Angeles, this astoundingly beautiful site is, also, the home of the last of three memorials commissioned by Tom Kane.

The following pictures are of these two remarkable visions from our war; the lost soldier and a POW. Those of us who were lucky enough to survive, no matter our difficulties, must always remember these heroes. I will post additional photos of the POW memorial, next time, on the 9th of December, as always, at 9:00am

The cemetery is located at Harmon and Van Buren in Riverside and is extremely beautiful and worth a visit if you are in the area.