Quotes on the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade.

Walking past a plaque which is engraved with one of many important quotes by Martin Luther King Jr.
Walking past a plaque which is engraved with one of many important quotes by Martin Luther King Jr.

I frequently walk along the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade in downtown San Diego. Whenever I do, I like to randomly read some of the historic MLK quotes that are engraved in plaques along the long pathway. I’ve never counted the number of quotes. There are easily dozens. Every quote on every plaque is important and powerful, and reflects the intelligence, energy, optimism and wisdom of America’s great civil rights leader.

Here are photos taken at different times of a few of Dr. King’s quotes…

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.
The deep rumbling of discontent that we hear today is the thunder of disinherited masses, rising from dungeons of oppression to the bright hills of freedom in one majestic chorus.
The deep rumbling of discontent that we hear today is the thunder of disinherited masses, rising from dungeons of oppression to the bright hills of freedom in one majestic chorus.
Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.
Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.
We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the Earth like brothers.
We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the Earth like brothers.
Two people walk side-by-side down the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade in downtown San Diego.
Two people walk side-by-side down the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade in downtown San Diego.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
The democratic ideal of freedom and equality will be fulfilled for all--or all human beings will share in the resulting social and spiritual doom...
The democratic ideal of freedom and equality will be fulfilled for all–or all human beings will share in the resulting social and spiritual doom…
The greatest victory of the civil rights period was something internal...We armed ourselves with dignity and self-respect...We straightened our backs up...
The greatest victory of the civil rights period was something internal…We armed ourselves with dignity and self-respect…We straightened our backs up…
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Any law that uplifts human personality is just, any law that degrades human personality is unjust.
Any law that uplifts human personality is just, any law that degrades human personality is unjust.
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
Breaking the Chains sculpture, by Melvin Edwards, reminds people on MLK Promenade of the positive legacy of a great civil rights leader.
Breaking the Chains sculpture, by Melvin Edwards, reminds people on MLK Promenade of the positive legacy of a great civil rights leader.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Spreckels Organ raises funds for Operation Rebound.

Jeff, a challenged athlete who benefits from Operation Rebound, at a special marathon Spreckels Organ concert.
Jeff, a challenged athlete who benefits from Operation Rebound, at a special marathon Spreckels Organ concert.

Right now I’m sitting at my computer on Cortez Hill, not far from Balboa Park. Sometimes I imagine–for a brief moment–that I can hear music drifting in through the window. Whether my ears are deceiving me or not, I do know that the huge Spreckels Organ is booming across the beloved urban park at this very exact moment.

How do I know this? Because San Diego’s own Civic Organist, Dr. Carol Williams, is playing the king of musical instruments today for twelve and a half hours straight! In addition to setting a new official Guinness World Record for organ playing, she’s raising money for Operation Rebound!

Operation Rebound is a division of the Challenged Athletes Foundation. They help American military personnel, veterans and first responders who face permanent disability, but who have a passion to compete in sports.  An active lifestyle can help greatly when it comes to both mental and physical health.  Here is their website.

The unique event today at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion helps to raise money, so that wounded warriors can obtain expensive prosthetics, specialized equipment, and funds for travel as they compete in sporting tournaments.

It is a most worthy cause.

You can donate right now!  Even a few bucks helps!  To do so, click here!

Operation Rebound table had images of wounded warriors who have turned or returned to sport. This organization helps challenged athletes with their expenses.
Operation Rebound table had images of wounded warriors who have turned or returned to sport. This organization helps challenged athletes with their expenses.
Dr. Carol Williams, San Diego's Civic Organist, is playing for over 12 hours to help raise money, plus set a new world record!
Dr. Carol Williams, San Diego’s Civic Organist, is playing for over 12 hours to help raise money, plus to set a new world record!
The beautiful Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park was the scene of an important Memorial Day weekend event.
The beautiful Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park is the scene of an important Memorial Day weekend event.
Jeff talks movingly about how Operation Rebound has helped him. Wounded warriors who engage in sports often need funds for prosthetics, travel to tournaments and special equipment.
Jeff talks movingly about how Operation Rebound has helped him. Wounded warriors who engage in sports often need funds for prosthetics, travel to tournaments, and special equipment.
At a table nearby, people were creating greeting cards that thank our troops for sacrificing for our freedom.
At a table nearby, people were creating greeting cards that thank our troops for sacrificing for our freedom.
One handmade heartfelt card reads--You Rock! Thank you for your bravery, dedication, and amazing strength.
One handmade heartfelt card reads: You Rock! Thank you for your bravery, dedication, and amazing strength.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Heroes of Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial.

Tinted morning sky above Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial in San Diego.
Tinted morning sky above Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial.

Early this morning, just as the sun was beginning to rise, I arrived at the top of a mountain. It had been a long while since I visited the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial.

Located in La Jolla, north of downtown San Diego, Mount Soledad is a place of stunning views and great natural beauty. And a place filled with memory and feeling. Thousands are honored here for unselfishly serving their country.

Plaques on six concentric walls each remember an American hero, some who are living, many who’ve passed away into history. At the center rises a tall white memorial cross, erected in 1954 to honor Korean War veterans. The subject of controversy over many years, the cross will soon stand protected on private land. The National Defense Authorization Act for 2015 contains a provision that will convey the cross to the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial Association.

Like a mosaic, eternally shining black granite plaques cover the low, curving walls; they tell the diverse stories of uniformed members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, plus those who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II. The walls will ultimately hold 3,200 names.

If you have a loved one who is serving, or who has served, you can purchase a plaque. Here is the memorial’s website.

Sun rising on eastern horizon illuminates top of concentric walls of the memorial.
Sun rising on eastern horizon illuminates top of concentric walls of the memorial.
The cross is a landmark that can be seen for many miles in every direction. The flagpole is bare at this early hour.
The cross is a landmark that can be seen for many miles in every direction. The flagpole is bare at this early hour.
Early morning visitors to Mount Soledad take photos of the 29 foot high cross.
Early morning visitors to Mount Soledad take photos of the 29 foot high cross.
Looking south over part of La Jolla toward Mission Bay and Point Loma. Downtown San Diego is visible on the far left.
Looking south over part of La Jolla toward Mission Bay and Point Loma. Downtown San Diego is visible on the far left.
Beautiful yellow flowers, grass and benches are found about this mountaintop monument to all Veterans.
Beautiful yellow flowers, grass and benches are found about this mountaintop monument to all veterans.
Gazing over curved walls containing memorial plaques toward the Pacific Ocean in morning light.
Gazing over curved walls containing memorial plaques toward the Pacific Ocean in morning light.
Friendly gentleman keeping the Mt. Soledad Park clean is grateful to work up here surrounded by so much beauty.
Friendly gentleman keeping the Mt. Soledad Park clean is grateful to work up here surrounded by so much beauty.
Photograph of the historic, controversial cross taken from its base.
Photograph of the historic, controversial cross taken from its base.
Plaque states the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross was dedicated in 1954 as a tribute to those who've served in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Plaque states the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross was dedicated in 1954 as a tribute to those who’ve served in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Veteran volunteer prepares to proudly raise the American flag.
Veteran volunteer prepares to proudly raise the American flag.
The Stars and Stripes is carefully attached, ready to be lifted into the wide, blue sky.
The Stars and Stripes is carefully attached, ready to be lifted into the wide, blue sky.
The volunteer momentarily lowered the flag to half-mast, to honor the fallen. He then raised it to the top and showed his respect.
The volunteer momentarily lowered the flag to half-mast, to honor the fallen. He then raised it to the top and showed his respect.
Plaque at base of flagpole.
Plaque at base of flagpole.
The very energetic volunteer was happy to show me around the memorial.
The friendly volunteer was happy to show me around the memorial.
Names of donors on special bricks.
Names of donors on special bricks.
Pointing out notable names and heroic exploits that shine on the walls.
Pointing out notable names and heroic exploits that shine on the walls.
Photo plaques honor both living and dead members of United States uniformed services.
Photo plaques honor both living and deceased members of United States uniformed services.
Memorialized vets served honorably in eras and conflicts throughout our nation's history.
These memorialized vets served honorably in eras and conflicts throughout our nation’s history.
Jeffrey Scott Taylor of U.S. Navy killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005.
Jeffrey Scott Taylor of U.S. Navy killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005.
Plaque on Mt. Soledad honors and remembers prisoners of war, and those missing in action.
Plaque on Mt. Soledad honors and remembers prisoners of war, and those missing in action.
Herman Henry Hanneken, Brigadier General of U.S. Marine Corps, served in many wars long ago.
Herman Henry Hanneken, Brigadier General of U.S. Marine Corps, served in many wars long ago.
Famed band director Glenn Miller was a great morale builder during World War II.
Famed band director Glenn Miller was a great morale builder during World War II.
General Black Jack Pershing fought victoriously, from the Indian Wars through World War I.
General “Black Jack” Pershing fought victoriously, from the late 19th century through World War I.
Rear Admiral Thomas William McNamara has a plaque on Mount Soledad.
Rear Admiral Thomas William McNamara has a plaque on Mount Soledad.
U.S. Army Corporal Alfred W. Stewart helped liberate the Philippine Islands during WWII.
U.S. Army Corporal Alfred W. Stewart helped liberate the Philippine Islands during WWII.
Pharmacist's Mate Third Class Howard Manuel Gonzalez of the U.S. Navy is honored.
Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class Howard Manuel Gonzalez of the U.S. Navy is honored.
Harry Herman Heimple was a highly decorated U.S. Air Force Colonel during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm.
Harry Herman Heimple was a highly decorated U.S. Air Force Colonel during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm.
San Diego local hero Jerry Coleman, a baseball legend who served with great patriotism in two wars.
San Diego local hero Jerry Coleman, a baseball legend who served with great patriotism in two wars.
Audie Murphy, one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II.
Audie Murphy, one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II.
General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower's plaque is added to a host of other plaques representing those who served with equal honor.
General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s plaque is added to a host of other plaques representing those who served with equal honor.
Commander in Chief Harry S. Truman began his military career during World War I.
Commander in Chief Harry S. Truman began his military career during World War I.
Jack Kramer served in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Second World War. He helped create modern professional tennis.
Jack Kramer served in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Second World War. He helped create modern professional tennis.
The four Nicosia brothers fought in different military branches in several theaters of war.
The four Nicosia brothers fought in different military branches in several theaters of war.
Famed Army General George S. Patton is remembered for his storied service to our country.
Famed Army General George S. Patton is remembered for his storied service to our country.
Legendary movie actor James Stewart was promoted to Brigadier General after 27 years of military service.
Legendary movie actor James Stewart was promoted to Brigadier General after 27 years of military service.
Pappy Boyington was a scrappy fighter pilot ace of the U.S. Marines during World War II.
Pappy Boyington was a scrappy fighter pilot ace of the U.S. Marines during World War II.
Dedicated to Jewish Chaplains who perished while in service to their country.
Dedicated to Jewish Chaplains who perished while in service to their country.
Sir Winston Churchill, who defended Britain from the Nazis, was made an honorary American citizen.
Sir Winston Churchill, who defended Britain from the Nazis, was made an honorary American citizen.
Patrol Bombing Squadron Eighteen. To men like them we owe our freedom.
Patrol Bombing Squadron Eighteen. To men like them we owe our freedom.
The brave, meritorious Tuskegee Airmen of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
The brave, meritorious Tuskegee Airmen of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy Seal and Medal of Honor recipient who sacrificed his own life to save his comrades in Iraq.
Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy Seal and Medal of Honor recipient who sacrificed his own life to save his comrades in Iraq.
I'm shown an often updated book that lists the positions of every plaque by name.
I’m shown an often updated book that lists the positions of every plaque by name.
The volunteer at the memorial dutifully rings eight bells.
The volunteer at the memorial dutifully rings eight bells.
The Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial is a place of moving stories, and many heroes.
The Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial is a place of moving stories, and many heroes.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

World’s first: Flaming arrow shot from throat!

Murrugun the Mystic from AMC show Freakshow begins his busker festival danger act with fire eating.
Murrugun the Mystic from AMC television hit Freakshow begins his busker festival danger act with fire eating.

Today I witnessed the grittiest performance I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a few.

I went to the Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival today and enjoyed a number of excellent, very entertaining acts. But the one that really stood out was performed by Murrugun the Mystic. He’s one of the stars of the AMC television reality show Freakshow.

While in a great deal of pain, Murrugun was first in the world to shoot a flaming arrow out of his throat! Let me describe his entire act…

Unfortunately, I filled up my camera’s memory card midway through his fire eating, just before he got to the really big stuff. At the end of some more conventional (but great) fire eating tricks, he really wowed the crowd. He filled his throat with a large quantity of kerosene combined with light gasoline, then produced two MASSIVE fireballs from his mouth. You had to see it to believe it! These balls of flame must’ve measured 6 feet in diameter. Oh, man! It was a bummer my camera ran out of memory! Afterward, he promptly rinsed his throat out with mouthwash and then water, because the flammable mixture is highly carcinogenic.

Next Murrugun balanced his entire body weight on a demonstrably sharp samurai sword. He leaned over the horizontal blade and supported himself on his stomach, lifting arms and legs from the ground.

Next came the bed of nails. I was volunteered, along with five other guys in the crowd, to help Murrugun wow the gathered audience. Each of us tested the nails, and while they weren’t sharp as pins, they were definitely pointed. Murrugun lay on the bed of nails, placed a board over his torso, and four of the guys, weighing a total of about 910 pounds, stepped up onto the board! I and another fellow helped to balance the four. Ouch! While this sort of thing has been performed for thousands of years, and the many nails effectively support a whole lot of weight, I wouldn’t want to be sandwiched between them and the combined mass of four guys!

Now the show got interesting in an alarming way. Murrugun used a very long pole to support “The Knives of Death”. I believe that’s what he called them. These five long knives faced downward from a ring, and should they topple down from the top of the pole, they’d probably impale poor Murrugun. I’m not sure how his act was supposed to proceed. The knives were balanced atop the pole. Suddenly down came the knives from on high and Murrugun lay flat on his back. The knives mostly missed him. But one sliced his leg. A good three inch gash was visible, and blood. He seemed stunned. He very gingerly hobbled to the back of the stage area, checked himself, and it looked to me like he then decided to tough it out. The audience didn’t seem to know how to react. Like them I just watched, astonished.

He was obviously hesitant and in pain. He told us he’d now perform a world’s first. He’d shoot a flaming arrow from his throat.

I could see his hands visibly trembling while he tried for a few seconds to piece two slender hollow rods together, which formed the shaft of the arrow. He gradually composed himself.  He lubricated the long shaft, which was possibly two to three feet long, lit the pointed end, then proceeded to swallow the unique arrow. He bent over, and after attaching the arrow end to a slingshot-like device, shot the arrow out of his throat and through the air! He missed the balloon in the bullseye, perhaps 10 or 15 feet away, but not by much!

I know that street performers–and circus and carnival sideshow performers–have a difficult profession and can endure a lot of hardship. But what I witnessed this afternoon was truly heart-rending and impressive. It seemed no amount of pain could slow down Murrugun’s showmanship and passion for his art.

Murrugun the Mystic noted that because Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have decided to eliminate elephants from their show (the news just out), perhaps there’s a chance the circus sideshow will make a comeback. That is Murrugun’s wish and personal mission. Can you help make that happen? Here’s his Facebook page.

Thanks, Murrugun, for privileging me to be a tiny part of busker history!  Good luck!

Murrugun the Mystic makes his entrance near Seaport Village's gazebo in the Plaza East.
Murrugun the Mystic makes his grand entrance near Seaport Village’s gazebo in the Plaza East.
Fire eating preceded balancing on a sword, being crushed on a bed of nails, and shooting a flaming arrow from his throat!
Fire eating preceded balancing on a sword, being crushed on a bed of nails, enduring knives of death, and shooting a flaming arrow from his throat!

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

San Diego breast cancer walkers: the final mile!

Participants in Susan G. Komen three day walk fighting breast cancer.
Participants in Susan G. Komen three day walk fighting breast cancer.

As usual, I ran into an unexpected cool sight during a walk. I was returning home from Balboa Park early this afternoon when I noticed a bunch of people wearing pink lining Park Boulevard. Sure enough! San Diego’s Susan G. Komen three day walk to raise money to fight breast cancer was underway.  It was heading down the homestretch!

I took a bunch of pics as I continued home along the route of the walkers. They had roughly one more mile to go until the finish line at downtown’s Petco Park stadium.

San Diego walkers cheered by pink-wearing supporters on Park Boulevard.
San Diego walkers cheered by pink-wearing supporters on Park Boulevard.
Mile 59. Just one mile to go to the Petco Park finish!
Mile 59. Just one mile to go to the Petco Park finish!
Lots of fun pink stuff greeted the walkers along the sidewalk.
Lots of fun pink stuff greeted the walkers along their route.
Guy helping with traffic wears pink and lots of pins and buttons.
Guy helping with traffic wears pink and lots of pins and buttons.
Encouraging signs wear everywhere along this beautiful section of the San Diego route.
Encouraging signs were everywhere along this beautiful section of the San Diego route.
Someone stenciled LOVE on the sidewalk.
Someone stenciled LOVE on the sidewalk.
Hydration station awaits some oncoming anti-breast cancer walkers.
Hydration station awaits some oncoming anti-breast cancer walkers.
Cars coming down the street honked and featured optimistic messages.
Cars coming down the street honked and featured optimistic messages.
San Diego police officer wears pink for the special occasion.
San Diego police officer wears pink for the special occasion.
Someone wrote a personal encouraging note in chalk on the sidewalk.
Someone wrote a personal encouraging note in chalk on the sidewalk.
This cool bystander guy has a pink mohawk!
This cool bystander guy has a pink mohawk!
U GO GIRL
U GO GIRL

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Heroes at San Diego 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.

San Diego 911 Memorial Stair Climb sign and building.
San Diego 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb sign and event building.

I saw on the news this morning that a special event was being held to remember the firemen and other heroes who responded with selfless courage during the 9/11 attack, thirteen years ago. Firefighters, wearing full gear, would climb ninety stories of stairs, simulating a climb of the World Trade Center towers shortly after they were struck.

My meandering Sunday walk around downtown started late, and by the time I was near the Convention Center, it was early afternoon. But I figured I’d swing around to the tall Hilton hotel to see if the event was still underway.

The stair climbing was over. But many firefighters and emergency responders from San Diego and the surrounding region were still in the park in front of the thirty story Hilton, enjoying food and fellowship.

I personally can’t imagine climbing the equivalent of three tall Hilton hotel buildings wearing all that awkward, extremely heavy gear! These heroes of today, with all of their might, honored the memory of those who endangered their own lives trying to save others.

Firefighters on anniversary of 911 passed under American flag.
Firefighters on anniversary of 9/11 passed under an American flag.
Heavy firefighting gear flung off after a very difficult climb.
Heavy firefighting gear flung off after a very difficult climb.
Emergency responders and the public were invited to the meaningful event.
Emergency responders and the public were invited to the meaningful event.
A piece of the fallen World Trade Center on display by stage.
A piece of the fallen World Trade Center on display by stage.
Some firemen head home with gear after the Sunday morning event.
Some firemen head home with gear after the Sunday morning event.
Used firefighter turnout bags and skateboards sold in front of Hilton.
Used firefighter turnout bags and unique skateboards sold in front of Hilton.
This little house simulated fire fighting for children. They saved a teddy bear!
This little house simulated fire fighting for small children. They saved a teddy bear!
The selfless courage of 911 firefighters is honored.
A flag, a firetruck and many heroes.  The selfless courage of 9/11 firefighters is honored.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.