Saturday, May 19, 2018

Maryland XIX

I want to interrupt the usual flow of these posts to tell you about the new Montgomery County, Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial the newest in the Nation.

It was in the early days of this project that I realized that we in Montgomery County had only a small, but dignified, memorial to all that served. It listed no names and as I saw more and more memorials around the country, I began to think that we should have something more appropriate. Montgomery County is fortunate to have a Commission on Veterans Affairs created by the County Executive Ike Leggett.

I went to a CVA meeting and proposed that we create a new memorial. Everyone of the Commissioners voted to proceed with the project. A sub-committee was formed and work begun. I was asked to be part of the committee although I am not a commissioner.

One of things I learned, that I had not anticipated, was how much the site chosen can dictate what can be done. Due to unforeseen difficulties we ended up moving the proposed memorial to five individual locations and the memorial changed in design at each one.

We finally settled on the existing Memorial Plaza in Rockville, the county seat. Now, in hind sight, I think it is the perfect location.

The plaza has an existing wall which defines the usable public area and this was was chosen to become Montgomery County's version of The Wall, honoring forever, the 130 county residents who were lost or are still Missing in Action.

The letters are cut into a stencil that is affixed to the wall and then sand blasted to create the names and text.

The names are then painted with a special outdoor masonry paint to give them contrast for viewing.

After painting each letter is carefully touched up with a razor blade.

Mark putting the finishing touches on a name

Granite is made up of several types of rock, some harder, some softer, so the sand blasting does not always completely remove all the stone. In such cased the artists resort to the more recognizable type of stone cutting, hammer and chisel.

Tim chiseling out a name

The guys doing the work, Tim and Mark, were kind enough to let me paint in the name of one of my childhood friends. It was a very special and emotional moment for me. Mark, the guy who did most of the painting, could do a name in less than a minute, while I, hand shaking violently, took, probably 6 or 7 minutes to complete Kevin's name. Mark and Tim were very patient and supportive and I truly appreciate their kindness, effort, and support.

Mark and Tim

So, this is a short version of how we got this done. There are numerous people to thank and I am afraid I might leave someone out if I tried to list them all here.

The new memorial will be dedicated on May 21st at 1pm at Memorial Plaza at the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street in Rockville, Maryland. There will be a number of events including a motorcycle rally, Everett Alvarez, the first pilot shot down over NVN and longest inhabitant of the Hanoi Hilton, will speak and families of the lost and missing honored. The bike rally will leave district (formerly Battley) Cycles at approximately 11:45- noon.

I will post more on this next week on the 24th, so check back then to see more pics of the event, as always at 9:00am.

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

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