Thursday, March 28, 2013

Oklahoma VI

On the lawn of the Kay County, Oklahoma Court House is this multiwar memorial. The Field Cross in the center is designated Vietnam. The Field Cross, as I may have stated preciously, has a long and storied history. The first known are from the Civil War era and were used to designate the spot where a soldier fell. Still honoring the fallen today, it has changed only slightly. To me, the most obvious change is the helmet. It changes with the conflict. I remember being surprised the first time I saw one with the more modern head gear resting on the rifle. I had associated it for so long with 'Nam that I was caught unaware and slightly abashed to have not foreseen the changes. I guess the only thing that does not change is that we send our best to serve; and die.

The memorial here covers a number of wars and the last pic lists those from Vietnam.

This is the final post from Oklahoma, at least for now. Check back again on April 2nd as we visit the great state of  West Virginia and its memorial to our fallen brothers and sisters.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Oklahoma V

As mentioned earlier, the rain continued to threaten and frequently follow through with its threat. As I approached Hulbert, I had to cross several bridges and the last one had local maintenance crews on it keeping people out. The water was not yet over the bridge and when I explained what I was doing they let me cross. They warned me not to be too long as I might not be able to get back across in the not too distant future. So, this one too, like Broken Arrow, nearly became one I didn't get!

 As I pulled into the area where the memorial stands, I was down hill from it. You can see that the road is under water. Fortunately, the uphill side was better and I could get a few shots through the teeming rain. What you cannot see in these pics is the original memorial. A gravestone like slab with the four names etched upon it was damaged as it was installed. It remains on site with the crack in it not repaired. The town opted to build the present one in its place. So, there are actually two memorials to these four lost young men.

Water creeping up to the memorial site
Benches, kneeling soldier and memorial

It is a nice little park, with the memorial, benches, and cut out soldiers kneeling, as if in prayer. There are 4 lost honored here and I couldn't help but think about the Monsoons in 'Nam as the relentless rain tried to sweep us all away! Those who were in-country  know that it was easy to find yourself in hip deep water in just minutes when the rains came.Oddly, I noticed as I made my escape that the workers were no longer guarding the bridge, just a few orange cones left behind!

I said earlier that Broken Arrow was as near to being rained out as I have ever come, but upon further thought, I think it was actually Hulbert!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Oklahoma IV

I visited my cousin, Dan, in Enid while visiting Oklahoma. He told me about and took me to the local Veteran's Memorial. Located at the Woodring Regional Airport, it consists of a number of walls engraved with he names of the many who have served in our conflicts.

It includes a number of artifacts from various wars including a F-4C Phantom from 'Nam, a POW/MIA remembrance and "nose art" from WWII.
Note the nose of the Phantom on the left

While not specifically a Vietnam Memorial at the time, all of that is changing. As I write these words on March 14th, 2013, groundbreaking is taking place to permanently display and 4/5 size replica of The Wall.

Once again, after a visit from one of the Traveling Walls, in 2010, the people in Enid wanted something permanent. A retiring "Traveler" was purchased and will be dedicated on next Memorial Day, May 27th.

The "ol' soldier" as it has been called traveled the country for seven years and will now rest forever in Enid. Escorted by a number of bikers, many vets, The Wall arrived in Enid recently to await its installation at its new home. Among the 58,000 plus names on it are 16 from the Enid.

I read today that the state legislature in resolution SJR 4 has officially designated the park with The Wall, The Official Oklahoma Vietnam Memorial. I don't know how "The Big Guy" in Oklahoma City feels about that, but I expect the folks in Enid are very proud, as they should be!

 I hope at some point to get back to Enid to rephotograph the memorial. If you get there, it may be found at 1026 S.66th.

Next time, we will visit a small memorial in Hulbert which was flooding as I entered the area. So, join me on the 23rd for this very quick stop!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Oklahoma III

The town is named for the Ponca Indians who inhabited the area and the memorial is found in Pioneer Park at Highland and 5th. I have read that this park is also called War Memorial Park.

It is shaped like the bracelets that so many wore for so long and remembers all of those still lost to us physically, but, never from our memories. It measures 24 feet and is sculpted from rose Granite from South Dakota.

VVA 750 spearheaded the project to completion

This memorial , like so many others I have seen was built,in part, because of a visit from The Traveling Wall. More than 20,000 came to pay tribute and many, as so often happens, wanted to build a permanent homage to the sacrifice of their friends, neighbors, sons and daughters. The memorial and its pathways were designed so as not to harm any of the parks trees, but to allow for the 1500 remembrance bricks that lead to the curved wall. These bricks have been purchased by friends, family and organizations wishing to honor a loved one or vets in general.

Once a year, flags collected by local Boy Scouts are brought to the site and burned nearby in accordance with established flag etiquette.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Chicago, Illinois Update

I got a nice letter from the guy who built the Fallen Soldiers Tribute in Chicago. You may recall from the earlier post that it is located directly across the street from the privately owned and built Vietnam Survivors Memorial. He told me that he became involved with the survivors memorial when he noticed that the flags were in need of replacement. He contacted the guy who built it,a former Seal, got to meet him and they cooperated from that point on. His name is Hank and he told me that he is a proud Marine, combat wounded, vet and that he belongs to quite a number of veterans organization. He says that on several occasions people have stopped to talk with him and that he has been able to assist some in finding veteran services. As I wrote earlier, he was not home on the day I stopped by. I regret that as it would be a great honor to meet him!

So, Hank, here is a salute to you, your service and the help and support you give others!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Oklahoma II

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma has a Veteran's Park that recognizes and honors her sons and daughters service and sacrifice. Amid the ball fields and recreational facilities lie a number of memorials including one to women who have served.

Interestingly, the Vietnam memorial that honors seven of her lost sons lies across the street from this park. I could find no explanation for this anywhere but, as always, if I should, I will update here.

I have been astounded as I have traveled the country to honor and photograph these sites that I have never been unable to take a picture due to the weather! I have, as I have mentioned before, been in 117 degree heat (in the deserts of California), up to my knees in snow ( Carson city, Nevada) and have had to wait out the rain (Springfield, Illinois to name just one). This one, in Broken Arrow, was as close as I have come to having to "bail out" (pun intended!) It was just raining to beat all and I feared the pics would not be useable, but with a little work they seem OK. It was windy enough for some of the soaked flags to move a little. I always like it when I can include some shots of flags in full view. Not so fortunate this time!