Today it seemed appropriate to visit a memorial site somewhere near my home. While my neighbors are barbequing and attending the “Kid Fest’ downtown, I’m going to quietly go visit some of the monuments that we’ve left for the next generation tp express my gratitude to the fallen heroes that ensure my freedom.
First stop is closest to home: the Vietnam War Memorial in Newhall Park. It’s on top of a hill on the west side of the park and there are no signs to direct you to it, just a grove of trees surrounding a raised flag at the top of a hill. It’s beautiful, peaceful place with views of the surrounding valley and Mt.Diablo. The flag flutters with the breeze and the monument itself is tucked away in one corner in the shade of the oak grove. Its simple inscription bears witness to the lives lost defending our rights.
Next, I traveled down highway 24 to Lafayette. By far the most well-known and controversial of the memorial sites in Contra Costa County, this beautiful and very visible hillside is covered in Crosses, Stars of David and Islamic Crescents; one for each fallen American soldier in the Iraq War. . Louise Clark and Jeffrey Heaton began erecting them with the sign announcing the latest number of casualties beginning in 2006.
There is an entire family taking photos near one of the crosses, other crosses are decorated and have names inscribed on them. There are people wandering among the white crosses, crescents and stars taking photos as a news van pulls up to record the activity and create a story. More people will get to visit this site virtually tonight! What a blessing.
Monument Blvd., in Pleasant Hill, used to be home to the Soldier’s Monument which seems to have been moved to allow the new downtown to develop unencumbered by its presence. It stands in front of the new Hyatt House on Contra Costa Boulevard. At least it is still visible and listed as a monument. Many other sites are not listed and therefore difficult to locate.
The Port Chicago Memorial is closed without reservations, so I was unable to visit there today, but I will find a time for that soon. It seems as though we erect monuments in order to assuage our conscience, it is inconvenient for us to honor and remember our fallen heroes
May you enjoy your celebrations and remembrances of the fallen and the returned. My father served in Long Beach, my uncle was in the Navy and both survived the war though they are gone now and I cherish their memories. My thanks to all who served our country.