Thursday, May 29, 2014

Florida VIII

Tampa was the debarkation point for Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders and, today, it is the home of a beautiful Vietnam Memorial, as well.

Located in Hillsborough County, as you enter the park you are greeted by these flags in the circle that creates parking.

Directly across from the flags you find a Huey and a Cobra watching over the names of the 156 who are, forever, honored here.

The main memorial lists those lost. One site I read reported that they were all officers, but this is not so.

On the reverse of the memorial are scenes from the war, a Vietnam Service medal and a POW/MIA flag.

The site was dedicated on November 11th, 2011 and is located on the east side of Tampa on U.S. 301 and the Tampa bypass canal, just south of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

There are several more pictures that I will share in the next posting, so join me then, on June 3rd, at 8:00am.

To see more memorials from Florida, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Today is not Memorial Day, but then, neither is the day we observe it on, either. Some years ago it was decided to move the observance to the last Monday in May. Originally, it was scheduled for the 30th of May. I copied the following, verbatim, from the Department of Veteran's Affairs, so all credit goes to them. I hope they do not mind my spreading the story.

Memorial Park in Albuquerque, N. M.

Memorial Day History

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
Local Observances Claim To Be First Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.
Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.
Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.
By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.
Some States Have Confederate Observances Many Southern states also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.
Gen. Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
The crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was approximately the same size as those that attend today’s observance, about 5,000 people. Then, as now, small American flags were placed on each grave — a tradition followed at many national cemeteries today. In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.
The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”
To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

So, whenever, or however,  you observe, please take the moment requested, at 3pm to honor those lost.

Next time, we will return to the regular schedule of posts of Vietnam memorials. On the 29th , we will go, once again, to Florida, so join me then, at 9:00am.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Connecticut V

Scotland, named after its founders homeland is a small town in rural Connecticut. In the 2000 census it boasted little more than 1500 residents, yet, like so many small towns across this nation it has managed to honor its patriots. In a small green, in the town, is a lovely gazebo, an old canon, and a couple of stones with placards honoring those who served in wars. This is, as I have said on numerous previous occasions, a reminder of just how close knit small towns so very often are.

Thirty one from a town of 1500 served, seems like a lot to me, but I note that none were lost or at least that none were designated as lost on the marker. Also, this marker only covers from 1964 which as you know is actually nearly 10 years after the first U.S. soldier was lost in 'Nam. A fact that I guess we will never come to peace with in this country. For those who do not know, some cites, towns, and states count the war years as from 1959 to 1975, the "official" count, others count from 1964 (Gulf of Tonkin incident/resolution and the War Powers Act, and still others use completely different dates, usually from when the first of their citizens was lost. I have seen dates from the mid fifties all the way through 1978. So, I wonder if these numbers would be different if the larger span of years was used or if those names at the bottom, added later, include those from outside the years listed here.

Join me next time, on the 24th, or a special Memorial Day post.

To see other posts from Connecticut, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pennsylvania XII

I returned to Philadelphia, recently, after reading about the repeated vandalism at the Vietnam Memorial there. I will not go into a long rant about the kind of people who would desecrate a beloved memorial, but I wanted to see what was up.

View from behind where the former wall of scenes was located

The earlier version of this remarkable site is featured elsewhere on this site. You can see it here;

The wall of scenes that faced the wall of name s is now completely gone. The only good thing I can see about that is that I was able to get a nice shot of the whole wall of names, this time. this was not possible before due to the confined space.

View from in front of the wall of names towards the former wall of scenes.

Reading the website of the memorial makes it clear that the intention is to rebuild it better than ever. What is does not do is make it very clear exactly what the new memorial is going to look like. I will return when the work is complete and report back later. It is hoped that the repairs will be complete by Memorial Day 2014.

In addition to being able to photograph the wall of names I also discovered a time capsule buried on the site, I had completely missed that the last time I was there. It is located around behind the wall of names.

Also, the last time I visited there were a large number of Shamrock stickers placed next to very Irish sounding names, this time, I saw that these had all been removed but someone had placed a number of 1st Air Cav. stickers next to certain names.

I feel like this is people being respectful and honoring those they loved and lost. There were, also, a couple of small "Irish" flags stuck in to the panels.

I do not object to these either, I kind of like them, but the vandalism is just meaningless, disrespectful and unacceptable. Nearby, is a beautiful memorial to the Irish immigrants who left Ireland during the potato famine and came here in hopes of survival and a better life. As I stood looking at it I was somewhat stunned by people not only allowing, but encouraging their kids to climb all over it and the teenagers placing themselves among the life sized statues of the refugees and taking pictures. Maybe it is not such a big deal, but I just feel that it is representative of the lack of respect, at worst, or the obliviousness, at best, of far too many.

Next time, I will get back on my standard alphabetical schedule and revisit Connecticut. As always, join me on the 19th at 9:00am.

To see other memorials from Pennsylvania, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Colorado XIII

Greeley, Colorado is north of Denver and is the home of the Weld County Veterans Memorial. The memorial honors Coloradans back to the Spanish American War( the first war the state was involved in after becoming a state in 1898) and specifically Joe P. Martinez, the first Hispanic to be awarded the Medal of Honor. (WWII)

In addition to the many names encased in glass display cases there is a marker honoring a stop by a Huey, from Vietnam, on its way to the Smithsonian Institution inn Washington, D.C.

The Vietnam memorial portion of the site includes a map of Southeast Asia, the Vietnam Service Medal, and a brief history of our involvement.

Detail from above

The site has a number of other interesting components including a statue of the above mentioned Joe Martinez.
This is a most beautiful site and is well worth some time when you are in the area. It can be found at the intersection of 16th Street and 35th Street. There is a sign there calling it Bittersweet Park, but is referred to as Lincoln Park by others. I do not know why this discrepancy exists but I would just use the street names as a guide.

Next time, on the 14th, I will take you back to see what has happened in Philadelphia to the memorial there. You may be shocked. So, join me at 9:00 am for the story.

To see other memorials from Colorado, or any other sate, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

California X

Arguably the most unusual and well hidden memorial I have seen is in San Juan Capistrano. At the very dead end of a road that accesses a few industrial buildings and stores is the Dreadnaught Memorial. It honors a division of Tankers who served in 'Nam. The Marines introduced tanks to 'Nam and were so successful that the Army soon followed suit.

The following paragraph was copied from a web page about this group;

"While supporting the 1st Infantry Division, elements of the 2-34th Armor conducted search and destroy operations in the II Field Force Area. The Vietnamese rainy season had turned the ground into a problem for the Tankers. Thirty-four of the Battalion's tanks became mired causing their mission to be in jeopardy. Major General William E. DePuy, the 1st Division Commander, monitoring the situation from a helicopter, contacted Lieutenant Colonel Stailey, the 2-34th Armor commander, and asked "How many Tanks do you have stuck, Tanker?" Lieutenant Colonel Stailey responded with his situation report of 34 tanks mired. Major General DePuy then challenged Lieutenant Colonel Stailey to a case of beer that he could not get all his tanks recovered by nightfall. With determination and hard work, the tankers met this challenge and were on the move again (and thirsty) before dark with all 34 vehicles recovered. So impressed by their performance, Major General DePuy nicknamed the battalion "Dreadnaught," meaning they could do the impossible and feared nothing. From that point on, 2-34th Armor would be known as the "Dreadnaughts" and also become a familiar call sign throughout Vietnam as its tank companies would be parceled out to other units until the Battalion's departure."

You can read the complete page, here:

This is the only memorial , so far, that I have seen that honors "Tankers." Tanks had not been thought to be appropriate for Vietnam, but these guys proved the experts wrong, once again.

Next time, we will revisit Colorado, where I will actually be at the time. I hope to visit several more memorials in Colorado and in New Mexico on this trip. So, join me, as always, at 9:00am on the 9th of May.

To see additional posts and memorials from California, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.