Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Somehow the post below did not "post" on Memorial Day, so I got it up as soon as I found out. Sorry that it was late!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

The practice of decorating the graves of soldiers is an ancient one. The origins of Decoration Day, as it was first called, has a long and varied history in the United States. Decorating the graves of fallen soldiers was practiced at different times, in various ways, sometimes depending on what part of the country one resided.

Around the time of the Civil War, the practice became more common and legend has it that the first observance happened in Virginia in1861. There is actual documentation of a ceremony in Georgia in 1862.

The first National Decoration Day was proclaimed in 1868 and events were held in 183 cemeterys in 27 states. Remember that a number of states were still territorys and not admitted to the Union for quite some years. An interesting fact is that the first Memorial Day Parade was held in Irontown, Ohio in that year and has been held every year since.

As time moved on the day became about honoring any one who had died in service and still later to remembering anyone who was lost in any way.

The name "Memorial Day",  was first used in 1882 and became more common after the second World War.  The change was not made official until 1967. A year later the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passes and May 30th was no longer the official date of the remembrance.

Over the many years this day has gone from honoring our war dead to a beginning of summer celebration, so as you enjoy the long weekend, take just a moment to remember all of those who have given up their lives in defense of our country. Regardless of our feelings about any specific war, those we remember made a sacrifice that we who are celebrating did not have to make and if we don't remember fewer and fewer may be willing to serve.

On the first of June we visit a small memorial to Meal Of Honor awardees in Omaha. Join me there at 9:00am

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Nebraska III

I wanted to go to Kearney because I so fondly remember my former Father-in-Law talking about growing up on a farm there. I still laugh that he will not eat sausage, to this day, so far as I know, because he had to make it as a kid. He used to say "I know what goes in it!"

So, I was pleased to learn that Kearney has a Vietnam Memorial. It is across the street from the High School and I wonder if that was chance or, perhaps, intentional. The old always send the young to die.

Located in Apollo Park, along with a Korean War Memorial, it honors four young men from the area who were lost in 'Nam. Interestingly, the site in Lincoln claims 405 lost from Nebraska, but several sites, including the Virtual Wall site, still claim and list 395, so it is possible that they may be more from Kearney. There are no names listed here and the site specifically pays tribute not only to the lost but to all who served.

I read an article that said that the Traveling Wall visited Kearney in 2011, 25 years after its first visit. 18,000 people visited this time and one was quoted as saying he hopes it doesn't take "another 25 years..." before it returns. I wonder who will be interested 25 years from now? Most, if not all of us will be gone by then and whom will tell our story then? I hope that this site will add a little to the knowledge that accumulated about the war, those who fought it and most importantly those remembered and honored by these sites.

This is one of those rare sites that actually has an address and it can be found at 3300 6th street, Kearney.

Next time, a special Memorial Day posting. So, as always, join me at 9:00am on the 27th of May. Nebraska will continue, in Omaha, on June1st following this special remembrance.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Nebraska II

The Veterans Memorial Garden within Antelope Park in Lincoln contains a number of other memorials. Most, not surprisingly, are not Vietnam. Here are a couple that are and a few I thought were interesting.

There was no explanation as to why this separately marked stone was here, but its simplicity is elegant.

A tribute to POW/MIAs stands nearby.

In another part of the park, this solemn remembrance of those who were POW's reminds us that we must never forget their service and immeasurable sacrifice.

I am sure there are others, perhaps at Fort Bragg (although I didn't see one when I visited) but this is the first I have photographed. It is showing some signs of wear, I hope there are plans to keep this one and all of them in the park, in good condition.
The plaque on the base of the  memorial.

I have written before about my former Mother-in-Law having been a W.A.S.P. and the contribution that she and he brave friends made to the WWII effort. This  site is not about WWII but I never want to miss an opportunity to pay homage to these brave, groundbreaking women without whom WWII may have dragged on longer or perhaps even had a different outcome.

Next time, on the 22nd, we will visit Kearney whee a small memorial remembers and honors those from the areas lost to the war. Join me, as always, at 9:00am.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Monuments abound in this great park in Lincoln! By my count there are 25. None of these would even exist without Vietnam.

The Traveling Wall visited Lincoln in 1989 and 80,000 people visited. As so often happens, once it was gone the people wanted to build something permanent. Conversations and planning began and then with the recent success in the first Gulf War, the idea really took hold. The result is the Veteran's Memorial Garden, home to the Vietnam Memorial and many other memorials now located in Antelope Park.

 The memorial to Vietnam vets recalls The Wall in D. C. Black granite panels inscribed with the 405 names of Nebraska's lost. These are flanked by bricks with the names of those who contributed to the project and those being honored by family and friends on the right and on the left, POW/MIAs.

The memorial sits in esteemed company. There are memorials here to many others, including some you don't always see. Some of these are to Military Women, Black Soldiers, K-9, Ex-POWs, and China, Burma and India to name just a few. There is also one I have never encountered. It is called Silent Death and reminds us that many soldiers (and their families) are victims of life long injury, suffering and often death due to our technological weapons of war. Agent Orange, for example, is now linked directly to Diabetes, Parkinson's and over 40 kinds of Cancer and only the Deity knows how many suffer from PTSD or other emotional or mental traumas! It suggests, to me at least, that perhaps we need to gravely consider decisions that lead to war.

These last two photos are of an essay written to The Wall and those whose names are forever upon it. If you enlarge the picture it is worth a read and quite touching. It is dedicated to all who served and those who fell and asks that their sacrifice be the last and somehow to be made "worth it."

It has been said that all too often those who will not fight make decisions that give others no choice. I have been all over the page on the "Draft" in my life. Against it, for it, but now I think that there is an argument for universal service. Watching our young men and women serve several tours in war torn areas is just not right. It is not a new idea but maybe bears repeating that if the sons and daughters of of those who make these momentous decisions were among those at risk, maybe, just maybe, different ways of dealing with others might emerge!

Next time, on the 17th,  we will visit a a few of the other memorials in this beautiful park. Join me as always at 9:00am!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

West Virginia VIII

This fourth and final post from Fairmont will center upon the wall and mural that borders a large area of the site.

It contains a number of familiar scenes, but also, more!

I had taken a few pics and my friend told me that it was being refurbished as it was beginning to show some wear.

You can see the POW/MIA area is freshly renewed.

As I was walking away, he said "Did you see the faces?" I asked "What faces?" We walked back and he pointed out how the artist had incorporated painting techniques to hide faces in plain site. I was astonished! They were right there, looking out of the jungle at us, and I totally missed them.

You can see in these pics that the artist has used the natural setting and other components of the pictures to create these faces even though you can also see the wear on them.  I have read that this is called Camouflage Art and the name seems perfectly appropriate in this setting.

Next, we will move on to Nebraska. An  interesting story about the memorial there will be worth taking a look at! So, see you on the 12th in Lincoln, as always, at 9:00am.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

West Virginia VII

This Huey has an interesting story. It spent much of its time in the Delta. In fact the crew chief and I had places in common. I had the privileged of talking with him just a few days ago. He was at one time a door gunner who eventually became the crew chief. His name is listed on the front of Super Slick as she was named.

This bird was listed as having been pushed off the deck of an aircraft carrier in the last hours of our involvement in 'Nam. Turns out (obviously) not to be true. There is a guy in California who has cataloged 7000 choppers that served in-country and it was discovered that this one actually made it, somehow, to Ft. Hood Texas. The guys from Fairmont arranged to get it and drove a flatbed down to pick her up. Amazingly, while there, they tried to start her up and she fired up and was ready to go. Unfortunately, no one present could fly her. So, they loaded her on the truck, brought her to Fairmont where she was cleaned up and made ready for the memorial. This coming Memorial Day (2013) many of those who flew her are meeting in Fairmont for a reunion. I so wish I could attend but will be in another part of the country at that time.

It always spooks me a little when sites put "guys" inside aircraft or in depicted scenes. I am not sure why. I guess the continuously nagging questions about whether they made it back or why them and not me? Fortunately, we know that many of her crew made it home!

Next time, I will conclude the visit to Fairmont, West Virginia by highlighting the remarkable mural that surrounds much of the site. It has a surprise or two. So, join me on the 7th of May to learn its secrets, as always at 9:00am.