A colorful 19th century Fourth of July!

The Westwind Brass Ensemble plays on stage in Old Town San Diego's plaza during an 1800's Fourth of July.
The Westwind Brass Ensemble plays in Old Town’s plaza during an 1800’s Fourth of July.

Today a good crowd turned out for a festive 4th of July in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park!

Every year this event provides a taste of what Independence Day would have been like in the 19th century. Fourth of July celebrations in San Diego would have officially commenced in 1848 when the small town became part of the United States.

If you remember some photographs that I posted three years ago, you might notice the event hasn’t changed much. But I love the color and history and the public participation so much I decided to go once again!

Many came out to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to enjoy an old-fashioned Independence Day.
Many came out to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to enjoy an old-fashioned Independence Day.
The Old Town 4th of July offered entertainments that would have been common in the 19th century, after San Diego became part of the United States.
The Old Town 4th of July offered entertainments that would have been common in the 19th century, after San Diego became part of the United States.
Boosters of Old Town San Diego Historic Park raise money by selling sliced watermelon and pies.
Boosters of Old Town San Diego Historic Park raise money by selling sliced watermelon and pies.
Members of the San Pasqual Battlefield Volunteer Association had a tent with historical displays.
Members of the San Pasqual Battlefield Volunteer Association had a tent with historical displays.
Photos or reenacted history near San Diego, including the Battle of San Pasqual during the Mexican–American War.
Photos or reenacted history near San Diego, including the Battle of San Pasqual during the Mexican–American War.
A family at Old Town's Fourth of July event learns all about spinning yarn.
A family at Old Town’s Fourth of July event learns all about spinning yarn.
Members of the Historic Quilt Guild had some of their beautiful handiwork on display.
Members of the Historic Quilt Guild had some of their beautiful handiwork on display.
These kids were making stuff with beads.
These kids were making stuff with beads.
Kids have fun with hoops on the grass. Simple play from an age long past.
Kids have fun with hoops on the grass. Simple play from an age long past.
A sack race has everyone laughing.
A sack race has everyone laughing.
This friendly guy near the blacksmith shop was making an axe handle.
This friendly guy near the blacksmith shop was making an ax handle.
Families were peering into the active blacksmith shop.
Families were peering into the active blacksmith shop.
Talking about how iron was shaped in Old Town San Diego in the 19th century.
Talking about how iron was shaped in Old Town San Diego in the 19th century.
All sorts of nostalgic music and dances entertained the crowd.
All sorts of nostalgic music and dances and contests entertained the crowd.
Handing out small American flags to those in the audience.
Handing out small American flags to those in the audience.
The keynote address reminds everyone of the meaning of Independence Day.
The keynote address reminds everyone of the meaning of Independence Day.
Old Glory readied to be raised on the plaza flagpole.
Old Glory readied to be raised on the plaza flagpole.

Diverse people in period costume read segments of the Declaration of Independence.
Diverse people in period costume read segments of the Declaration of Independence. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Volunteers from the crowd also went on stage to read portions of the Declaration of Independence.
Several people attending the event also volunteered to go on stage to read portions of the Declaration of Independence.
A patriotic parade for the Fourth of July commences around Old Town San Diego's historic plaza.
A patriotic parade for the Fourth of July commences around Old Town San Diego’s historic plaza.

Ordinary Americans are invited to join the parade.
Everyday ordinary Americans are invited to join the parade.

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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!

Art raises awareness about bird trafficking.

Public art now on display in Seaport Village aims to raise awareness about the impact of illegal bird trafficking.

Birds Without Paradise (Pajaros sin Paraiso) was created by Oaxacan artist Manuel Molina with the assistance of volunteers and school children in both the United States and Mexico. Many life-size birds made of corn husks and wood take flight overhead, reminding us of the harm caused by illegal bird trafficking.

The freedom themed art, which has been displayed at various locations in both nations, strengthens cross-border cultural connections and is a delightful bond between diverse people.

These colorful birds will be flocking above Seaport Village, just west of the central fountain, through April!

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!

Student posters: Equality and Justice For All.

Justice and Equality.
Justice and Equality.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s a day for reflection and hope.

This morning I walked past San Diego’s downtown Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse. I paused by several window displays to take photographs of colorful youth art.

The artwork was chosen from many entries to the San Diego County Bar Association’s 2018 Law Week Poster and Video Contest. The theme was: What does Equality and Justice for All mean to students?

Taking sharp photos through the windows was a challenge. I had to increase the contrast for each of these images.

Enjoy a few bits of wisdom from young hearts and minds:

Equal and Free!
Equal and Free!
Respect . . . Fairness . . . Education . . .
Respect . . . Fairness . . . Education . . .
All should mean Everyone.
All should mean Everyone.
Equality and Justice for All.
Equality and Justice for All.
Equality and Justice.
Equality and Justice.
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

“Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 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.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Photos of Vietnam War Memorial in La Mesa.

At the center of La Mesa's HYFD Vietnam Memorial Park stands a three-sided monument containing many plaques.
At the center of La Mesa’s HYFD Vietnam Memorial Park stands a three-sided monument containing many plaques.

A beautiful memorial in La Mesa remembers Vietnam Veterans who gave their lives for their country. The Heartland Youth for Decency Vietnam Memorial Park was originally built in 1970, then restored and rededicated in 2014. It can be found at the corner of University Avenue and Nebo Drive.

A community group of young people called Heartland Youth for Decency (HYFD) built the monument at a time when there was a great deal of contention about the Vietnam War. Its purpose was to honor veterans from San Diego’s East County who were killed during that horrible war.

Here are photos that I took today. The small Memorial Park can seem lost in the endless hustle and bustle of surrounding streets. But words that speak of courage, grief and honor stand quietly waiting, for any who wish to see.

Read the captions for a bit more description.

Flags fly in the January breeze. A helmet atop a cross, signifying those killed during the Vietnam War.
Flags fly in the January breeze. A helmet atop a cross, signifying those killed during the Vietnam War.
Greater Love Hath No Man... Heartland Area Vietnam Deaths
Greater Love Hath No Man… Heartland Area Vietnam Deaths
We of Heartland Youth for Decency dedicate this monument to the young men from our own generation who have given their lives that we might be free.
We of Heartland Youth for Decency dedicate this monument to the young men from our own generation who have given their lives that we might be free.
A man died for me today...
A man died for me today…
A beautiful tile mosaic bench in the park with American flag and peace sign.
A colorful tile mosaic bench in the park with American flag and peace sign.
A second bench has a star at either end.
A second bench has a star at either end.
A bald eagle, symbol of the United States. Freedom Is Not Free.
A bald eagle, symbol of the United States. Freedom Is Not Free.
A simple, emotionally powerful letter at the base of the flagpole. ...Most of all, Father, I love you.
A simple, emotionally powerful letter at the base of the flagpole. …Most of all, Father, I love you.
To one side stands the POW/MIA Empty Chair. And the words: Lest We Forget.
To one side stands the POW/MIA Empty Chair. And the words: Lest We Forget.
Powerful symbols in a small La Mesa park.
Powerful symbols in a small La Mesa park.
American eagle and flag mosaic art on rear of the POW/MIA Empty Chair is by the Rainforest Art Project.
American eagle and flag mosaic art on rear of the POW/MIA Empty Chair is by the Rainforest Art Project.

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!

Faces tell stories at Veterans Day parade.

A big parade for Veterans Day this morning in San Diego.

Many different faces, young and old, moving forward together down Harbor Drive. Each face telling a story.

The story of a life filled with pride, courage, honor, sacrifice and friendship.

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!

Photos of Massing of the Colors in San Diego.

The 62nd Annual Massing of the Colors and Service of Remembrance was held this morning at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. The stirring, patriotic event is organized by the San Diego Chapter of The Military of the World Wars. Its purpose is to honor the flag and support and remember those who have served our country and defended liberty, including those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The parade of color guards this year included about 30 groups, from a variety of local organizations representing ordinary Americans, the military, veterans, law enforcement, JROTC and ROTC, and scouting.

The annual Massing of the Colors has been held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for 62 years without interruption. During a speech, special recognition was given to the Daughters of the American Revolution, who have faithfully participated in this patriotic celebration every single year.

When I arrived at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, a practice run was just finishing up. After a short wait, the parade of color guards commenced.

I will let my photographs tell the story.

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!

Colors of patriotism at big Fourth of July parade!

Flags move forward down Orange Avenue during the 2018 Fourth of July Parade in Coronado.
Flags move forward down Orange Avenue during the 2018 Fourth of July Parade in Coronado.

This morning I headed to Coronado to enjoy another Fourth of July parade.

This is the third year I’ve photographed the epic event. I had considered going elsewhere this year, but Independence Day in Coronado is special, and their patriotic parade is arguably the very best in the entire country, so I couldn’t resist experiencing it all again one more time!

I arrived early to Coronado and walked about for a bit, then found a spot on the parade route just before it started down Orange Avenue.

Here are some colorful photos…

People gather in Coronado for a patriotic Fourth of July Celebration.
People slowly gather in Coronado for a patriotic Fourth of July Celebration.
A guy waits on the sidewalk for the big morning parade with a flag ready.
A guy waits on the sidewalk for the big morning parade with his flag ready.
Red, white and blue bunting could be seen on shops and buildings throughout Coronado.
Red, white and blue bunting could be seen on shops and buildings throughout Coronado.
Kid heads down Orange Avenue on a small bicycle decorated for Independence Day.
Kid heads down Orange Avenue on a small bicycle decorated for Independence Day.
Many homes had patriotic banners and decorations. Most residents in Coronado support our country and our liberty.
Many homes had patriotic banners and decorations. Most residents in Coronado support our country and its core principle of human liberty.
A smiling Uncle Sam at someone's front gate.
A smiling Uncle Sam at someone’s front gate.
These tie-dye Coronado shirts in front of a shop are red, white and blue.
These tie-dye Coronado shirts in front of a shop are red, white and blue.
People relax and look at artwork for sale in Spreckels Park. An afternoon concert in the park features patriotic music.
People relax and look at artwork for sale in Spreckels Park. An afternoon concert in the park features patriotic music.
Patriotic wreath and bouquet in front of the Coronado Police headquarters honor and remember Senior Volunteer Patrol volunteers who recently passed away.
Patriotic wreath and bouquet in front of the Coronado Police headquarters honor and remember Senior Volunteer Patrol volunteers who recently passed away.
Portraits of hometown heroes.
Portraits of hometown heroes.
People head down Orange Avenue as the parade is about to begin.
People head down Orange Avenue to get in their spots as the parade is about to begin.
Hats are removed and hands placed over hearts as thousands sing the National Anthem.
Hats are removed and hands placed over hearts as thousands sing the National Anthem.
Can you see it yet? Here comes the parade!
Can you see it yet? The parade? Here it comes!
Members of San Diego County law enforcement come down the parade route on horseback.
Members of San Diego County law enforcement from Escondido ride down the parade route on horseback.
The Grand Marshall this year was Vice Admiral Brown.
The distinguished Grand Marshall this year was Vice Admiral Brown.
Several waving Pearl Harbor survivors received great applause from the crowd.
Several heroic Pearl Harbor survivors received great applause from the crowd.
The Fourth of July Parade in Coronado goes on and on with too many participants to mention!
The Fourth of July Parade in Coronado goes on and on with too many participants to mention!
A patriotic pooch.
A patriotic pooch.
Here comes the Marine Corps Band San Diego.
Here comes Marine Corps Band San Diego.
Military heroes march by on Independence Day.
Military based in San Diego march by on Independence Day.
Wounded Warriors get a big Welcome Home!
Wounded Warriors get a big Welcome Home!
A big American flag carried by many hands.
A gigantic American flag carried by many hands.
Smiles and many who are proud to live in the land of the free.
Smiles from many who are happy to live in the Land of the Free.
Here comes the Castle Park High School Trojan Brigade!
Here comes the Castle Park High School Trojan Brigade! They came up from Chula Vista.
As you might imagine,lots of cool cars were in the parade.
As you might imagine, lots of cool cars were in the parade.
Kids wave to the crowd.
A driver touches hands with the crowd as kids wave.
I think I see Maverick of Top Gun in that cockpit! No, it's actually a friendly young Tom Cruise look-alike who I've seen posing for photos by the USS Midway Museum.
I think I see Maverick of Top Gun in that cockpit! No, it’s actually a young Tom Cruise look-alike who sometimes poses for photos by the USS Midway Museum. I spoke to him once and he’s a super friendly cool guy.
The USS Midway Museum is always an important participant in San Diego's patriotic celebrations.
The USS Midway Museum is always an important participant in San Diego’s patriotic events.
During patriotic holidays, the Rotary Club of Coronado lines Orange Avenue's grassy median with American flags.
During patriotic holidays, the Rotary Club of Coronado lines Orange Avenue’s grassy median with American flags.
Here comes Honest Abe!
Look! Here comes Honest Abe!
I was getting hungry and hoped she'd accidentally flip a pancake my way.
I was getting hungry and hoped this lady might accidentally flip a pancake my way.
Guys in wheelchairs shoot hoops behind the Rotary float.
Guys in wheelchairs shoot hoops behind the Rotary float.
Another hero is celebrated. He represents The Distinguished Flying Cross Society.
Another hero is celebrated. He represents The Distinguished Flying Cross Society.
There were lots of parade participants on horseback.
There were lots of parade participants on horseback.
Another American Veteran is saluted. I saw many members of The Greatest Generation being thanked for their service long ago.
Another American veteran is saluted. I saw many members of The Greatest Generation being thanked for their service long ago.
More pageantry, another marching band.
More pageantry, another marching band.
Members of the United States Navy march past.
Members of the United States Navy march past.
A flag held high greets passing musicians.
A flag held high greets passing musicians.
A beauty queen smiles and waves.
A beauty queen, seeing my camera, smiles and waves!
People watch the big parade from a building on Orange Avenue.
People watch the big parade from a building on Orange Avenue.
Flags everywhere.
Flags everywhere.

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