Sunday, April 28, 2019

California XXVI

Eleven or so miles east of Los Angeles, out route 10, is the city of Rosemead. previously, I have written about Rosemead because of the unique and beautiful 911 memorial in the city.

Today, however, I will tell you about the Vietnam memorial on the grounds of the City Hall.

You can see part of the 911 memorial behind this one.

The flags were dancing in the wind.

It is a not huge memorial, but honors the six men from the city who died in Vietnam. The names are hard to see and read because the beautiful flowers were in full bloom the day I visited.

You can just see some of the names along the bottom of the memorial

I wondered inside City Hall and got talking to one of the guys that works there. He was telling me about how this memorial was dedicated in 1989 replacing a much older one. I said something about being sorry that I had missed the older one. He said for me to wait a minute and he disappeared down a hall. A few minutes later he returned carrying the older memorial. He carried it out side and placed it on the ground where I could take a picture of it. What a great, reverent, and kind thing for him to do.

As you can see it is quite small, but notice that date:April 1968, the same month and year that I came home from 'Nam.

The names, as I said, are nearly invisible this time of year;

Michael Shands
Michael Craig
Dale Blume
Ramiro Moro
John Lewis
Tommy Thomas

I have heard it said that if one dies alone they will be forgotten, not these men, these heroes, these remembered here, forever.

Next time, on the 3rd of May, we will return to Florida, so meet me there, as always, at 9:00am.

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Arizona XXII

It is truly the end of an era.

No matter what you think of the politics of the Rolling Thunder organization it is undeniable that they have had a huge impact upon out country, veterans, and how we remember and honor our lost brothers and sisters from Vietnam.

Beginning in 1988, six years after the dedication of The Wall, the tradition of motorcyclist riding past The Wall began. It grew into a huge event with literally hundreds of thousands of bikes from all over the country participating in the "run to The Wall." It would be difficult, if not impossible, to calculate the total number of riders who have passed by to salute, honor and remember the men and women listed upon the black granite.

Each May new names, if any have been identified, are added to the honor roll. Last May (2018) none were added and one wonders if in fact the last name has been found. This brings to mind Springsteen's Who'll be the last to die?

Rolling Thunder has announced that 2019 will be the last ride, ending 32 years of honoring our brothers and sisters at The Wall. They cite a number of reasons for this decision but recommend that local groups continue the tradition in some way. We will see how that develops.

At the event in Peoria, I ran across this bike, just as I was leaving for the night. I didn't have a tripod with me so these are the best I could do under the conditions.

This seems a fitting salute to all the riders, millions of them, who came from every corner of the country and in fact from around the world to ride past The Wall. If you have ever dreamed of participating in Rolling Thunder, named after the B-52 raids in 'Nam that began in 1965, or of just coming down to pay witness and homage on the curbs and corners of Washington, DC, this is your final chance. The main event, the run, is scheduled for May 26th. Check out other info here:

Next time, on the 28th, we will get back to the regular cycle of posts. California is next, join me there at 9:00am.

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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Arizona XXI

My visit to Peoria was on March 16th, the day before St. Patrick's Day and with the following in mind, was extremely happy to find that the people running this show had placed a pot of blooming Shamrocks, an American flag, and a POW bracelet along side a prepared list of the names of our Irish friends.

If you follow A Means to Heal with any regularity you may have read about the Irish who served in Vietnam along side us.

Ireland did not participate in the war, but 2500 of her sons and daughters came to America or Australia specifically to join the military and add their support to out efforts in Southeast Asia.

30* of these mostly unknown heroes were lost, but their names are forever inscribed upon The
Wall, our memories, and our hearts.

I have told this story here and elsewhere many times but it is unknown by most.

Never have I had anyone say, "Oh yeah, I know about that." This, sadly and surprisingly, is also true in Ireland. I have traveled there quite a bit and except for one person, I have never met anyone who was aware of this sacrifice by her citizens. Except for one man, who is trying to get a memorial built to the men and women who were lost. The last time I visited, a couple of years ago, the memorial had not been built but I have heard since that it has been completed and is in Ennis. I'll see the next time I visit the land of my ancestors.

*Note: 30 is the number I was told when last in Ireland. While looking on line for more information I come across various numbers ranging from 22 to 31 including some Irish civilians. some of this information had not been updated in years so if I am able to track down an exact number I will update here.

Update: the number is now officially 29.

Next time, one more from Peoria, so, as always, meet me there at 9:00am on the 22nd.

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

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Arizona XX

A recent trip to Arizona led me to an actual visit by The Wall That Heals. This is the original version of what are now several replicas of The Wall that travel the country so that many folks who might never make it to DC can see The Wall, mourn their lost and pay tribute to all who served and all who were lost. I have seen a number of these in places where they were purchased after "retirement" and placed permanently by the local population. Some of these can be seen in Butte, Montana, Pensacola, Florida, Altoona, Pennsylvania and a few other places I have visited.

The Wall That Heals is sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the same people who built The Wall in DC.

The display of the nearly life-sized version of The Wall took place in Peoria which lies a bit north of Phoenix.

In a large field backed by a lake and some of Arizona's many mountains, The Wall That Heals is every bit as impressive as its Washington DC namesake.

I was here for a number of hours and the light was continually changing giving The Wall a different look at various times throughout the day.

People from all around searched for and found their loved ones names.

This scene was repeated over and over throughout the day.

Anyone who knows me will understand why I featured this guy. He is a vet and we spent a few moments talking.

I am going to switch up a little here. As you know, I would usually move on to another state from here, but there is more to tell from this visit, so next time, on the 18th, at 9:00am, rejoin me here in Peoria for more about this moving experience.

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

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Alabama XII

The Elmore County, Alabama, Court House may have more memorials on its grounds than I have seen elsewhere.

I have written previously on this site about at least two others and today I want to share with you this POW/MIA memorial that graces these premises, too.

Surrounded by these flags it makes quite an impression, but I have been unable to find anything about them. Are they towns, cities, or municipalities? I just don't know, as always, if you do I would love to hear from you.

The memorial also features an eternal flame. I always think that these add a dignity and a sense that those honored here will be honored forever. Sadly, I have seen a number eternal flames that no longer burn.

The plaque reminds us of the sacrifice of so many and to be grateful to them

It is easy to begin to ask the unanswerable questions while remembering these brave brothers and sisters, but do not dwell upon these for too very long for they will only bring grief, not answers.

If you survived and wonder why, perhaps you have a mission to fulfill that is not yet complete. Take solace in that and move forward at all times.

Next time, on the 11th, we will revisit Arizona, so join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

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

Monday, April 1, 2019

So, a variety of events, far too many for me to handle it seems, prevented me from posting over the last couple of days.

As the French might say, Merde' Fait!

This is what I wrote and intended to, but failed to, post on the 30th, National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, so take a moment to remember those who were lost, those who are still unaccounted for, and those who still carry the physical and emotional scars of our efforts in a far away land.

Vietnam was a very unpopular war and the soldiers carried the brunt of the country's displeasure and war weariness as the war went on and on and on.

Despite what you may hear, Vietnam is still our longest war. The first American soldier was killed in 1956 and the we withdrew in 1975 after the North violated a treaty that ended the war, signed two years previously.

The "silver lining" to Vietnam is that we as a Nation learned to separate the war from the warrior and that is why today in airports returning soldiers are welcomed and cheered rather than jeered or, at best, simply ignored and this change is good.

Welcome Home to those who will always be my brothers and sisters.

There are lots of politics around Vietnam Veterans War Day now, people taking credit for something that has been long established, but today, or rather the 30th, is not the time nor place for that, perhaps later.

So, as promised last time, next time I will post from Alabama, so meet me there, as usual, but apparently not always, at 9:00am on April the 6th.

To see Vietnam memorials from any of the 50 states, please click on the state name on the left side of this page.