Bust of a San Diego Air Force hero.

The beautifully sculpted commemorative bust of San Diego resident, retired Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas, USAF occupies a place of honor in Balboa Park. The bust can be found in the Veterans Memorial Garden, a short walk from the entrance to the The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.

I was on hand to observe the sculpture’s unveiling almost six years ago. The ceremony was held during a Spirit of ’45 event that honored heroes of World War II. To see that inspirational blog post, click here.

I’ve decided to post photographs of the Cardenas bust today because it’s Memorial Day–one of those days when we express our gratitude to all military service members. And because I posted photos of another sculpture by the same artist a couple days ago.

San Diego sculptor Richard Becker also created Liberation, a statue at Miramar National Cemetery. That bronze sculpture remembers and honors Prisoners of War. You can see the emotionally powerful Liberation here.

Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas, USAF has a list of achievements and awards a mile long. Please read his Wikipedia page here. You’ll learn that in World War II, after he was shot down during a mission over Germany, he swam across a lake into Switzerland to escape capture, then rejoined the fight. You’ll also learn that years later, from a B-29 Superfortress that he piloted, he dropped the experimental supersonic X-1 aircraft flown by Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier.

Behind the bust of Robert Cardenas you can see a sculpture of a B-24 Liberator bomber from World War II. It’s the plane that Robert Cardenas flew during the Second World War.

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!

Create a virtual tribute to a deceased Veteran.

After the Memorial Day ceremony, some people linger to view the ceremonial wreaths. The plaque behind the rostrum contains President Lincoln's famed Gettysburg Address.

Are you a relative or friend of a deceased military Veteran? Are you grateful to someone who served in the United States Armed Forces who is no longer with us?

On this Memorial Day–or on any day–you can create a virtual tribute to those who chose to protect our nation and our freedom.

The online Veterans Legacy Memorial (VLM) now allows visitors to leave a comment on a Veteran’s memorial page.

According to the Veterans Legacy Memorial website, which is an extension of the National Cemetery Administration: “NCA manages more than 140 national cemeteries as shrine spaces to honor our Nation’s Veterans, and extends memorialization of the 3.7 million Veterans interred in those cemeteries to this digital memorial space by providing a VLM profile page for each Veteran.”

If you would like to create a virtual tribute to a deserving hero, a digital tribute that might endure forever, click here.

POW memorial at Miramar National Cemetery.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. We will remember and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in past wars.

Yesterday I visited Miramar National Cemetery. I paused before a moving statue titled Liberation. The 15-foot tall monument was created by San Diego artist Richard Becker. It’s a memorial to Prisoners of War, who also sacrificed greatly.

The bronze statue shows a prisoner liberated, breaking free from surrounding barbed wire. The extraordinarily expressive artwork speaks for itself.

I thought you might like to see it.

If you’d like to see more work by renowned local sculptor Richard Becker, you can revisit past blog posts here or here or here or here.

The plaque on the base of Liberation reads:

This statue conveys the excitement, trepidation, exhilaration and emotion of the LIBERATION moment, as the emaciated soldier steps out of the darkness into the “Sunshine of Freedom.”

He portrays the hundreds of thousands who were bound in captivity by the infamy of foreign enemies.

This is to stand as an eternal legacy for our community by reminding visitors of the sacrifice of veterans during America’s efforts to keep alive the hopes and dreams of freedom for the oppressed around the world.

American-Ex Prisoners of War, Chapter One, San Diego.

Artist: Richard Becker.

Dedicated: 2011.

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

More signs expressing unity and thankfulness.

We are all in this together.
We are all in this together.

In San Diego we are proceeding with the gradual reopening of society as the coronavirus pandemic seems to slowly subside. Today restaurants were allowed to open for dining. Strict guidelines must be followed such as maintaining super sanitary conditions and safe social distancing.

Some say the reopening of society is proceeding too quickly; others say not quickly enough. But the future is a tricky thing to predict. There are so many variables. So many different risks. All I know is that at some point we’ll look back and see what actions in the final analysis were most wise. And our knowledge will increase.

On another hopeful note, during my walks in the past couple weeks I’ve observed more signs around town celebrating unity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other signs express thankfulness to essential workers. You’ll see that one billboard I photographed about a week ago concerning restaurants now seems dated, but no matter.

That so many people have demonstrated an urge to stay positive during this terrible crisis seems a good sign for the future of humanity in general.

At least, it appears that way to me. I’m an optimist.

San Diego strong.
San Diego strong.
To restaurants still delivering meals, thank you.
To restaurants still delivering meals, thank you.
Thanks transit driver heroes.
Thanks (transit driver) 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!

Pandemic heroes thanked at Petco Park.

A large building wrap thanking heroes during the coronavirus pandemic has appeared on Petco Park in San Diego.
A large building wrap thanking heroes during the coronavirus pandemic has appeared on Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.

A large building wrap has appeared on Petco Park thanking heroes during the coronavirus pandemic. The huge graphic expresses gratitude to essential workers, firefighters, healthcare professionals and law enforcement who sacrifice to keep the public fed and safe.

It’s a wonderful sight.

We in San Diego are accustomed to seeing huge, colorful building wraps affixed to Petco Park and buildings surrounding the convention center during Comic-Con. But this wrap doesn’t promote popular entertainment. It’s simply a heartfelt Thank You.

Know what would be really cool? If Comic-Con followed suit with their own Thank You wrap! Having multiple wraps around downtown would be a little like Comic-Con, even though the world-famous pop culture event has been cancelled this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

San Diego could have a visual Thank-You-Con for the real superheroes.

We need you. We thank you.
We need you. We thank you.
San Diego frontline heroes... Thank You.
San Diego frontline heroes… Thank You.

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!

Signs thanking heroes during the pandemic.

Thank you to all essential personnel. You are all heroes. Grateful words on the marquee of the Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego.
Thank you to all essential personnel. You are all heroes. Grateful words on the marquee of the Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego.

Around San Diego, signs are popping up that thank healthcare workers, first responders, and other heroes who are fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

I noticed two prominent examples as I walked through downtown this morning.

I thought you might like to see.

A sign of gratitude for healthcare workers and other heroes during the coronavirus pandemic. A heart composed of windows on a tower of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.
A sign of gratitude for healthcare workers and other heroes during the coronavirus pandemic. A heart composed of windows on a tower of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.

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!

Pacific Beach Fire Station’s 9/11 Memorial.

Standing next to Pacific Beach Fire Station 21, at the west end of Grand Avenue, you’ll find a 9/11 Memorial.

There are images, words, selfless heroes, lost lives.

Never 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!