War Memorial at San Diego State University.

A War Memorial stands at San Diego State University. It remembers SDSU alumni who fought and died for their country.

The tall monument is located in Aztec Center Green, north of the SDSU Transit Center, west of the Aztec Student Union building.

Those who approach the War Memorial can read the names of students from several generations.

Many fought in World War II. Others fought in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

WAR MEMORIAL

PLANNED BY A SELECT PRE-50s ALUMNI COMMITTEE

DEDICATED ON NOVEMBER 23, 1996

ARTIST: JESS DOMINGUEZ

IN MEMORY OF OUR CLASSMATES WHOSE LIVES WERE TAKEN FROM US DURING OUR NATION’S MILITARY CONFLICTS

THIS WAR MEMORIAL’S JAGGED EDGES SYMBOLIZE THE SHATTERED LIVES OF OUR AZTEC HEROES AND CLASSMATES LOST SELFLESSLY IN SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY.

WE SALUTE AND HONOR THEM.

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The powerful Holocaust exhibit in Chula Vista.

It is essential, to maintain our humanity, that we remember the Holocaust, and the terrifying inhumanity of a time and place when six million ordinary people were systematically murdered.

RUTH Remember Us The Holocaust is an extremely powerful exhibit now on display in Chula Vista. It occupies a corner of the Chula Vista Civic Center Library–a quiet, thoughtful space set aside for the Chula Vista Heritage Museum.

Display cases filled with photographs remember the experiences of Holocaust survivors who arrived in the South Bay with important stories to tell and broken lives to renew. One survivor, in particular, is highlighted: Ruth Sax. As a girl, she lived the horror of Jewish persecution by the Nazis. Ruth would end up in three different concentration camps including Auschwitz.

Those who wish to learn from history will see how Nazis in pre-World War II Germany began with anti-Jewish propaganda and discrimination, and ended with ghettos, concentration camps and extermination centers.

“The smell, deaths, lice, beatings, isolation, tattoos, gassings, cremations, humiliations . . . and the starving, shaving, hiding, markings, threats . . . this was the Holocaust. I felt dead inside . . .” These words were written by Ursula Israelski.

Many of the Holocaust survivors who arrived in San Diego’s South Bay brought with them similar memories. And many, appreciative to be in a free country, were able to live normal lives again–to the extent normal is possible after such life changing experiences.

According to one graphic in a display case, the mission of this exhibit is to shine “a light on the darkness of the Holocaust by creating awareness so that we are guided by leadership, respect, hope and that our history teaches love is stronger than hate and kindness is stronger than power.”

Come and see it with your own eyes.

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!

Open House tour of San Diego’s Waterfront Park.

Last Sunday I enjoyed a fascinating tour of Waterfront Park in San Diego. The special public tour was part of the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Open House event.

Our small group was guided by Glen and Jeff of Schmidt Design Group, landscape architects who worked on the Waterfront Park project almost ten years ago. The park opened to the public in 2014. (I was there for the big grand opening! You can see many photographs taken during that historic day by clicking here!)

As we walked around the beautiful park, where two large parking lots originally existed, we learned so many facts I failed to jot many down!

I did note that the two stretches of fountains on either side of the County Administration Building together are 830 feet long. The fountain design was tricky, because the water in the basin where children jump and play could be only one inch deep, due to safety concerns. The fountains utilize an 80,000 gallon water tank, and the 31 jets spray water 12 to 14 feet high.

The fountains were to be set in marble, but to save tens of millions of dollars, specially applied concrete made to look like marble was utilized instead.

The parking garage under the south end of Waterfront Park is below the water table (San Diego Bay is a block to the west), and consequently various innovative measures were taken to keep water from seeping in. I was surprised that, like the nearby County Administration Building, piles were driven 100 feet deep into bedrock to support and stabilize the structure!

The “hill” with a slide in the wonderful, very popular playground was built up with high density foams blocks. (The same hill referred to as Tony Gwynn’s opposing “pitching mound” when the park’s sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle debuted back in 2015. See those fun photos here!)

One bit of information really surprised me. There had initially been plans to install Dr. Seuss sculptures around the playground! The Grinch and his dog Max were to stand atop the hill. The Cat in the Hat would welcome kids near the fountain area. Our group didn’t hear why that plan fell through.

We did learn how, during Waterfront Park’s construction, large old palm trees and the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial were moved. We saw the bits of shining, sparkling mica that were placed in the concrete around the memorial.

We learned how the large garden at the north end of the park was designed to be a beautiful, contemplative area. And, indeed, it is.

The garden is divided into three sections. The north “grass” or “meadow” garden with 15 varieties of grass; the middle Mediterranean garden with sages, rosemary, lavender and Torrey pines; and the south “tropical” or “diversity” garden, with plumeria, bird of paradise and many other lush plants.

Irrigation for the park requires 8 million gallons per year! But this free, very popular “water park” serves hundreds of thousands of San Diego residents every year, many arriving by trolley from less affluent neighborhoods.

Lastly, we learned how the County of San Diego will soon be removing the garden, and replacing it with a dog park, basketball and pickleball courts, and other recreational amenities. I suppose the change is both sad and exciting. As they say, there are two sides to every coin.

I’ll be watching the progress of that project and will probably be taking photos in the future!

This is where the proposed Cat in the Hat sculpture would have stood!
Donal Hord’s iconic Guardian of Water sculpture stands in the background. Learn a little more about it here.
The present location of the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial.
Part of the Waterfront Park garden. The large garden will be removed to make way for sports facilities.

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!

War and freedom in Solana Beach.

World events are showing us once again that war is hell. And that freedom is precious.

Earlier this year, I took these photographs in Solana Beach of the war memorial at the corner of Highway 101 and Plaza Street/Lomas Santa Fe Drive. Plaques honor local residents who fought in World War II and the Vietnam War.

I performed a search to learn more about this memorial, but a Waymarking link to an old North County Times article concerning its creation is broken. Apparently the memorial was dedicated on March 26, 2009.

Beneath the plaques are the bold words FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.

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!

Students reveal genealogy, humanity at History Center.

An exhibition at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park assembles the genealogical research of students at High Tech High.

The High Tech High “Rubber Duckies” have discovered the fascinating stories of their ancestors, and have shared them online. The stories contain joys, struggles, successes and failures–they are memories of complex lives filled with humanity whose echoes still touch the living.

At the museum, visitors can scan QR codes to read the stories. Or you can read them now by clicking Pre 1900, 1901-1950, or 1951-Present. Then click Family History at the top of each story summary to read the student report.

Many of the students have immigrant ancestors with stories that will break or lift your heart. Some distant ancestors are quite surprising, such as William the Conqueror.

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!

County ceremony at Day of the Dead altar.

This morning I walked down to the San Diego County Administration Building to view their Day of the Dead altar. Like the one last year, this new altar on some outdoor steps remembers those who’ve died from COVID-19.

When I arrived a gentleman was setting up additional luminarias and flowers.

Baltazar Hernandez, who is also Vice President of the City Heights Día de los Muertos, was busy making the altar more beautiful and meaningful.

He informed me there would be a special ceremony in the evening, so I returned to the County Administration Building after work.

The ceremony began with a blessing of the altar by Baltazar, who wore Danza Azteca garb. A few short speeches followed.

The most powerful words were spoken by someone who had tragically lost a loved one. She told everyone: “That empty place that you have in your heart–fill it with love.”

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!

Day of the Dead walk around Old Town.

Today many are celebrating Día de los Muertos–Mexico’s traditional Day of the Dead. It is a time when departed loved ones are remembered and honored.

Early this evening I took a short walk around Old Town San Diego to see what I might see.

Many are still cautious because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so there wasn’t the usual crowd and activities. But I did find music and colorful Catrinas at Fiesta de Reyes, and sugar skull face painting at a few spots in the State Park and along San Diego Avenue. I also came across a couple of Día de los Muertos altars.

These are my photos…

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Plaque at Cabrillo honors National Parks hero.

A beautiful bronze plaque near the entrance of the Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center honors Stephen Tyng Mather.

It reads:

STEPHEN TYNG MATHER

JULY.4.1867. JAN:22.1930.

HE LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEFINING AND ESTABLISHING THE POLICIES UNDER WHICH ITS AREAS SHALL BE DEVELOPED AND CONSERVED UNIMPAIRED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. THERE WILL NEVER COME AN END TO THE GOOD THAT HE HAS DONE.

You can learn more about Stephen Mather and how he promoted the creation of the National Park Service and became its first director here.

The Wikipedia page states: “In 1932, his family and friends established the Stephen Mather Memorial Fund, which commissioned numerous bronze plaques honoring Mather’s accomplishments and installed them in national park units.

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!

Love at the Dog Beach Memorial Garden.

Del Mar’s Dog Beach is a place where dogs run free and pure love flourishes. At the Dog Beach Memorial Garden, expressions of that love are made visible.

Small smooth stones are painted with the names of beloved dogs. The garden is filled with angels, butterflies, poems, flowers . . . and gnomes, pink flamingos and other fun decorations.

I walked down from Camino Del Mar through this special Memorial Garden when I visited Dog Beach last weekend for the Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon. (If you missed it, you can see those dog surfing photos here!)

Please enjoy the following photographs…

Gracie, Buster, Missy, Bronx, Toby, Scout, Paisley, Wolfie, Cabo, Solana, Macey…
We will meet again at the Rainbow Bridge.
Love equals licks.
Hope blooms in the garden of love.
Live simply and be grateful.
Loved ones memorialized simply.

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 memorial for Kabul attack victims.

I saw this memorial today as I walked along the Pacific Beach boardwalk.

Thirteen flags had been planted nearby in the sand, to honor and remember the thirteen United States service members who died during the attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, almost two weeks ago.

Some people walking or biking through the sunshine stopped, to quietly gaze at the flags, flowers, and scattered objects of remembrance.

I don’t know who created this simple but moving tribute.

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.