Today I found myself at the California Viet Nam Veterans Memorial in Capitol Park. It is a very peaceful place. The black granite walls display the names of those who died in Viet Nam (every name was read aloud yesterday in a pre Memorial Day ceremony). The names are separated by home town. I read the names listed under Santa Rosa and was relieved that I didn’t recognize any. But I was struck by how young most of the men who died in Viet Nam were; the vast majority were 19, 20, 21. Just babies. The bronze statues were all bedecked with fresh flowers, beads, and flags. One look at the display and the tears started to flow. I was not expecting the emotions that overwhelmed me as I walked around and took photos, tears streaming down my face.
I spent about an hour there, most of the time talking to a former Navy SeaBee, a gentleman in his late 70’s who entered the memorial about the same time I did, using his walker and proudly sporting a cap that proclaimed his Naval service. I sat next to him on a bench. He told me he spent a couple of years in Viet Nam as a chief heavy equipment operator building and rebuilding Liberty Bridge at An Hoa in Quang Nam Province over the Thu Bon River. As we talked, people, all much younger, approached him with outstretched hands, shaking his, thanking him for his service, or recounting their own.
Focal Length 62mm