A WWII paratrooper and his 2019 Normandy jump.

Tom Rice smiles after a brief speech at the 2019 Spirit of '45 Celebration at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.
Tom Rice smiles after a brief speech at the 2019 Spirit of ’45 Celebration at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.

Today I listened to a few words that were spoken by Tom Rice, a 97-year-old member of the Greatest Generation. He spoke during the annual Spirit of ’45 Celebration at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park. He came up to the podium and told the audience about his experiences.

In the dark, very early morning of D-Day, 75 years ago, Tom parachuted behind Nazi lines with other brave soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, to pave the way for the invasion and liberation of Europe. In 2019 he parachuted into Normandy again, to honor other World War II veterans, many of whom are no longer with us.

He remembered his deeds with humility.

I learned that a film will soon be released that features Tom Rice’s anniversary jump. Libertas, which is the title of the Normandy Jump 2019 documentary, will be pre-screened on August 17 & 18, 2019, at the Vintage Village Theatre in Coronado, California. After the screening there will be a panel discussion with the film director, producer, and Tom.

Money raised through ticket sales will be used by Honor Flight for their Fall 2019 Tour of Honor, which will send World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C. so they can see their memorials. There are over 100 San Diego veterans on the waiting list.

Should you pre-order the DVD, use the code “Honor Flight” at check-out and $5 will go to help make the Tour of Honor possible.

To learn how you can buy a ticket for the special pre-screening of Libertas, or if you’d like to order the DVD, please visit this website.

I know some of this blog’s followers are in the local military community. Spread the word!

If you’d like to donate to Honor Flight San Diego, click here!

A small memorial and The Aztec Warrior.

In Memory of Jesus A. Suarez del Solar Navarro. Was born in Tijuana, Mexico - died like a hero and he will live forever in our hearts.
In Memory of Jesus A. Suarez del Solar Navarro. Was born in Tijuana, Mexico – died like a hero and he will live forever in our hearts.

Today I walked through beautiful Kit Carson Park in Escondido. I was on my way to see Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, a world famous sculpture garden by Niki de Saint Phalle. It’s an extraordinary work of art that celebrates life. I’ll post many photos in the next day or two.

As I walked up a path near Eagle Scout Lake, I stumbled upon a small memorial under a tree. I looked down to read some words.

A family in Escondido's Kit Carson Park pauses to gaze at a small memorial.
A family in Escondido’s Kit Carson Park pauses to gaze at a small memorial.
American flags and The Aztec Warrior. Hero of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
American flags and The Aztec Warrior. Hero of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

POW/MIA monument unveiled at Veterans Museum.

A beautiful new POW/MIA monument was unveiled today at the San Diego Vietnam Peace Memorial, outside the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park.

During a moving Memorial Day ceremony, a black cloth concealing the monument was removed, revealing a gorgeous mosaic showing the American flag, a soaring eagle, and at the center the POW/MIA emblem. The artists who created the mosaics at the Vietnam War Memorial in La Mesa were also responsible for this stunning work.

In a stirring speech we learned that the remains of 67 missing in action were identified and brought home in the last year. Those who lost their lives on our nation’s behalf will not be left behind.

And they will never be forgotten.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Faces of the USS Midway Remembrance Wall.

Real people, like you and me.
Real people, like you and me.

In this crazy world, during our busy and stressful lives, it can be easy to forget just how fortunate we are. To take Freedom for granted.

This morning I was reminded that some take an oath to defend that Freedom.

After attending the Memorial Day weekend Wreath Ceremony on the flight deck of the USS Midway, I headed down to the museum’s hangar deck. I wanted to see the Remembrance Wall.

I saw the smiling faces of family and friends and neighbors.

They won’t be forgotten.

A wreath for Memorial Day weekend. USS Midway Museum Remembrance Wall. Honoring our Fallen Heroes and Gold Star Families.
A wreath for Memorial Day weekend. USS Midway Museum Remembrance Wall. Honoring our Fallen Heroes and Gold Star Families.
Many faces.
Many faces.

Thank you for your service.
Thank you for your service.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Wreath ceremony on USS Midway honors heroes.

This morning I attended a special Memorial Day weekend ceremony on the flight deck of the USS Midway. Heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our precious freedom were remembered and honored.

A community band played. The National Anthem was sung. Two vintage warplanes passed overhead. The colors were retired.

Veterans and those who fell in battle were thanked with moving speeches. Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar, commander of Navy Region Southwest, spoke powerfully about protecting liberty. I jotted down a few of her words. “Our banner of Freedom soaring high . . . others before self . . . honoring their lives and their great sacrifices . . .”

Veterans in attendance were asked to speak into a microphone and tell everyone where they served. Repeated applause.

Four wreaths honoring those who’ve gone before were tossed from the flight deck into San Diego Bay, and a fifth was tossed from the Maritime Museum’s restored Swift Boat.

Harbor Patrol boats signaled their honor with columns of water.

Many salutes.

Fluttering flags in sunlight.

Proud faces.

Faces of those who have served their nation.

Faces of those who remember.

Faces of those who will never, ever forget.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Freedom Bell at Balboa Park’s Veterans Museum.

America's Freedom Bell.
America’s Freedom Bell.

A powerful symbol of human liberty has found a home in San Diego!

America’s Freedom Bell, a project of The Spirit of Liberty Foundation, will now be displayed inside The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park when it’s not travelling around the nation. The bell arrived several days ago, and can now be seen by the public!

America’s Freedom Bell was cast in 2013 on the 69th Anniversary of D-Day. It’s made from 330 pounds of bronze, and 10 pounds of steel from the World Trade Center towers that fell during the September 11 attack in New York. The bell features the emblem of each branch of the United States Armed Forces and is inscribed with the words: HONORING OUR ARMED FORCES PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE.

Since the Freedom Bell’s creation, over 5 million Americans have rung it to honor a loved one who has served to protect our precious freedom.

Visitors walk up the front steps of the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park.
Visitors walk up the front steps of the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park.
America's Freedom Bell has found a new home inside San Diego's beautiful Veterans Museum, which used to be the San Diego Naval Hospital Chapel.
America’s Freedom Bell has found a new home inside San Diego’s beautiful Veterans Museum, which years ago was the San Diego Naval Hospital’s chapel.
The Freedom Bell honors America's heroes from all branches of the military. The bell was cast from metal from the Twin Towers that fell on 9/11.
The Freedom Bell honors America’s heroes from all branches of the military. The bell was cast from metal from the Twin Towers that fell on 9/11.
A mural on one wall in the Veterans Museum shows The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A mural on one wall in the Veterans Museum shows The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A nearby bronze sculpture by Don Schloat, made from his personal experience in World War II. Palawan: U.S. POW Martyr.
A bronze sculpture in the museum by Don Schloat, made from his personal experience in World War II. Palawan: U.S. POW Martyr.
First U.S. Flag to Fall in the Philippines. Baguio, 1942. A symbol of freedom.
First U.S. Flag to Fall in the Philippines. Baguio, 1942. A symbol of freedom.
The worn boot of one who fought for liberty.
The worn boot of one who fought for liberty is displayed in the museum, not far from the bell.
HONORING OUR ARMED FORCES PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
HONORING OUR ARMED FORCES PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Take a tour aboard a new Coast Guard cutter!

This weekend the general public has the rare opportunity to take a free tour aboard a brand new United States Coast Guard cutter! The USCGC Benjamin Bottoms, which is scheduled to be commissioned in San Diego this week, is presently docked on the Embarcadero just north of the Maritime Museum.

USCGC Benjamin Bottoms (WPC-1132) is a Sentinel-class or Fast Response cutter that has very advanced capabilities. The vessel will be based in San Pedro and will spend most of its time off the coast of Southern California engaging in maritime rescues, drug interdiction, and a variety of other missions.

I stepped aboard today and was greeted by smiling crew members, heroes who have saved the lives of many. I was permitted to take photos everywhere but inside the pilothouse, which contains the latest technology. I was told that almost everything on the cutter is computerized, with sensors and controls just about everywhere. This type of cutter is unique in that it is equipped with a bow thruster which allows for very nimble maneuvering.

After checking out the pilothouse, our tour headed to the rear of the cutter where a small Cutterboat – Over the Horizon inflatable boat can be quickly released into the ocean or pulled back aboard. With its jet drive, the cutterboat has the ability to pursue and overtake very fast vessels.

We then went inside the Benjamin Bottoms to see its galley, a central dining and meeting area, and some officer quarters.

When you take a tour of the vessel, a friendly crew member will also tell you how the ship got her name. To summarize, using the words of Wikipedia: “Benjamin Bottoms was a United States Coast Guard radio operator who died while attempting to rescue the crew of a USAAF bomber that had crashed-landed in Greenland in November 1942.”

Head down to the Embarcadero tomorrow between 9 am and 2 pm and enjoy a fascinating tour and say Thank You to some genuine heroes!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!