Military heroes on VFW 2422 Memorial Wall.

The Memorial Wall beside VFW Post 2422 in Coronado, California.
The Memorial Wall beside VFW Post 2422 in Coronado, California.

You can’t miss it. A proud Memorial Wall. You’ll see it near the front door of the General Henry D. Styer Post 2422 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Coronado. Tiles contain the names of heroes who served their country with honor.

Here are some photos.

Tiles on the outdoor Memorial Wall remember those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Tiles on the outdoor Memorial Wall remember those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Front of the General Henry D. Styer Post 2422 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Coronado.
Front of the General Henry D. Styer Post 2422 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Coronado.
Plaque on bench reads Dedicated to All Who Have Served or Are Serving in Support of Our Country's Freedom.
Plaque on nearby bench reads Dedicated to All Who Have Served or Are Serving in Support of Our Country’s Freedom.
Plaque at base of flagpole reads In Honor of the Coronado Men and Women Who Served in the Armed Forces in World War II.
Plaque at base of flagpole reads In Honor of the Coronado Men and Women Who Served in the Armed Forces in World War II.
Names on the Memorial Wall include United States Navy Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale.
Names on the Memorial Wall include United States Navy Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale.
Painted on three small stones are words of Thank You for the service of heroes.
Painted on three small stones are words of Thank You for the service of heroes.

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Help restore a beautiful Navy sailor memorial.

Volunteers and Boy Scouts work to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Volunteers and Boy Scouts work to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.

Your help is needed to help restore a beautiful U.S. Navy sailor memorial in San Diego. I’m speaking of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Some of the 66 oak trees planted to honor the victims of the USS Bennington boiler explosion in 1905 have themselves died. They need to be replaced.

The San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is working to restore and improve the historic oak grove with the help of hardworking Boy Scouts and locally-based U.S. Navy sailors. You can read more about these efforts here.

But money is needed. Donations are sought to purchase new trees. Please contact the San Diego DAR to learn how you can help honor and beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

A dead oak tree that needs to be replaced.
A dead oak tree that needs to be replaced.

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Boy Scouts improve Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

Over the past year and a half, some amazing young men have been working to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. These community-minded Boy Scouts, with the help of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, have undertaken projects in the historic grove in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

You might remember the photos that I posted of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. It’s tucked away in a corner of Florida Canyon, not far from Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course. The 66 live oak trees were planted in 1905 to memorialize 66 sailors killed on the USS Bennington on July 21st of that year. The gunboat’s boiler exploded while it was in San Diego Bay, and many men tragically perished.

The efforts of these hardworking Boy Scouts have added beauty, safety and memory to the old oak grove. Four have successfully become Eagle Scouts. They are Joshua Ortega, Sam Kinsey, Frederick Persons and Erik Ortlieb. The projects of two other young men are now underway.

Most of these photographs have been contributed by local historian Kathleen Winchester. She and other members of the DAR’s San Diego Chapter have been instrumental in providing coordination and encouragement as the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove is improved. Please read the photo captions to appreciate the unselfish work of these young men.

I have learned the grove’s kiosk will eventually contain the names of those who perished aboard the USS Bennington. And very soon a flagpole will be raised in the grove-the project of another Boy Scout.

In 2014, the San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with the San Diego Park and Recreation Department and the Friends of Balboa Park as part of the latter’s “Adopt-A-Plot” program and adopted the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

The local DAR intends to purchase more oak trees to replace dead ones. If anyone wants to help with this worthy endeavor, contact the San Diego Chapter of DAR. All contributed funds will go straight to the purchase of trees.

As you can see in a few of the photos, U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego homeported aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have also lent a hand. Their involvement is especially meaningful as Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States in 1905 when the USS Bennington disaster occured. President Roosevelt was a conservationist who would have loved this shady grove of majestic oaks.

The sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, by helping to beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, honored their fellow seamen from an earlier time.

The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
The oak grove's entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
The oak grove’s entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by the sign he built on October 16, 2016. It welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by a post of the wooden sign he built on October 16, 2016. The sign welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project - Joshua R. Ortega - Troop 299 - June 2016.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project – Joshua R. Ortega – Troop 299 – June 2016.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the revitalized USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove!
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on!
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on! Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

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!

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Sculpted faces of Greatest Generation at night.

A crew member of U.S.S. San Diego, representing all United States sailors who served their country during World War II.
Sculpted face of a crew member of the U.S.S. San Diego, representing all United States sailors who served their country during World War II.

Yesterday evening, after dark, I walked along the Embarcadero. When I arrived at the Greatest Generation Walk, I paused to gaze at the various illuminated memorials and monuments. I was struck at how light reflected from the bronze figures of military heroes, highlighting their expressive faces.

I took many photos of those faces. I kept my flash off. Some of the faces were insufficiently lit for my camera, but the photographs you see here, of mostly ordinary people courageously serving our country–primarily in World War II–came out quite well. I sharpened the images a bit, but that’s all.

The first photo was taken at the U.S.S. San Diego (CL-53) Memorial, created by artists Eugene Daub and Louis Quaintance.

The next seven photographs were taken at the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military, created by artists Eugene Daub and Steven Whyte.

The next three photographs were taken at the Homecoming sculpture, created by artist Stanley Bleifeld.

The final two photographs were taken at the Aircraft Carrier Memorial, which was created by artists T.J. Dixon and James Nelson.

Bob Hope as he appeared in the 1940s, entertaining the troops on a USO tour.
Bob Hope as he appeared in the 1940s, entertaining the troops on a USO tour.
A World War II Marine Corps Sergeant depicted as a patient from the 44th Field Hospital.
A World War II Marine Corps Sergeant depicted as a patient from the 44th Field Hospital.
A World War II naval aviator.
A World War II naval aviator.
A Korean War sailor.
A Korean War sailor.
World War II Navy Machinist Mate John Ibe, who survived the loss of the USS St. Lo during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
World War II Navy Machinist Mate John Ibe, who survived the loss of the USS St. Lo during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Korean War Private from the 45th Infantry Division.
Korean War Private from the 45th Infantry Division.
A World War II fighter pilot. One of the Tuskegee Airmen.
A World War II fighter pilot. One of the Tuskegee Airmen.
A sailor embraces his wife upon his return from a deployment far from home.
A sailor embraces his wife upon his return from a deployment far from home.
A supportive wife hugs her sailor husband.
A supportive wife hugs her sailor husband.
Love endures.
Love endures.
A sailor who serves aboard an aircraft carrier.
A sailor who serves aboard an aircraft carrier.
A naval aviator who flies from an aircraft carrier.
A naval aviator who flies from an aircraft carrier.

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!

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Love and memory: Old Town’s Dia de los Muertos.

Names and a few loving words. Spiritual magic, linking the living with the dead during Dia del Los Muertos.
The names of loved ones. Spiritual bonds link the living with the dead during Dia de los Muertos.

Many generations came together in Old Town this evening during Dia de los Muertos.

Love and memory were written on so many smiling faces as people celebrated their departed loved ones. Chalk memorials and scattered marigolds lined San Diego Avenue. And the evening ended with a candlelight procession from Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to the small El Campo Santo cemetery. A walk of several blocks in the growing darkness . . . a short walk down a road brightly lit by love.

My poor camera failed to capture the candlelight procession as night descended. But your heart and mind might imagine it.

An abundance of music, humor and life on stage during the Dia de Los Muertos celebration in Old Town San Diego!
An abundance of music, humor and life on stage during the Dia de los Muertos celebration in Old Town San Diego!
People could pose for photos with two giant skeleton puppets!
People could pose for photos with two giant skeleton puppets!
An artist paints two large skulls--calaveras--in Old Town's Plaza de las Armas during Dia de los Muertos.
An artist paints two large skulls–calaveras–in Old Town’s Plaza de las Armas during Dia de los Muertos.
Children decorate traditional sugar skulls.
Children decorate traditional sugar skulls.
Some around the park wore fancy dresses and hats for the day, recreating the iconic Mexican image of La Calavera Catrina. There were many faces painted like fantastic skulls.
Some around the park wore fancy dresses and hats for the day, recreating the iconic Mexican image of La Calavera Catrina. I saw many faces painted like fantastic skulls.
Some of the shops in Old Town had a mix of decorations for both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.
Some of the shops in Old Town had a mix of decorations for both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.
A large, colorful calavera above a restaurant inside Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
A large, colorful calavera above a restaurant inside Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Face painting and a smile.
Face painting and a youthful smile.
Hundreds of tributes and sentiments for departed loved ones were written with chalk on a long stretch of San Diego Avenue inside the State Historic Park.
Hundreds of tributes and sentiments for departed loved ones were written in chalk on a long stretch of San Diego Avenue, inside Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Lanterns among the heartfelt Dia de los Muertos chalk memorials.
Lanterns among the many Dia de los Muertos chalk memorials.
Te amo--I love you--and a marigold.
Te amo–I love you–and a marigold.
Love and memory connect generations as the years roll on.
Love and memory connect many generations as the years roll on.

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!

A glimpse of history at Mount Hope Cemetery.

I happened upon a few notable names during a walk through Mount Hope Cemetery. I had over an hour before the Memorial Day ceremony would begin, so I just wandered down winding roads through fields of headstones.

Many early residents of San Diego are buried at Mount Hope. Among the jumble of names engraved in stone, one can find some of the city’s most influential citizens. Like Alonzo Horton, Kate Sessions, George Marston, Thomas Whaley, Ah Quin, E. S. Babcock, and Robert Waterman. (Not to mention the famous author Raymond Chandler!) But I didn’t have a map. So I just meandered through the hilly cemetery and gazed.

Thousands of gravestones.

Every life different. Every life important in its own way.

Some of the dates indicate long lives, others short. But isn’t it true that all of our lives are short?

Someone asked about my visit–if the cemetery felt spooky. No. The best word that comes to mind is bittersweet. A feeling of both joy and sadness.

Every single name has become a part of San Diego history.

(I did a bit of research for this blog post. Hopefully I got the following information right. If not, leave a comment!)

George James Keating
George James Keating

George James Keating was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1840. He and his wife Fannie, owners of a farming company, eventually moved to San Diego in 1886. Keating made large investments in the city’s booming real estate market. After his death, Fannie oversaw the construction of the five-story Keating Building, which I blogged about several years ago here.

Graves of the Marston family.
Graves of the Marston family.
George White Marston
George White Marston

George W. Marston was often referred to as “San Diego’s First Citizen.”

A successful department store owner, he founded the San Diego Historical Society and was a prominent advocate for and planner of Balboa Park. He was a critical force in the establishment of the San Diego Public Library System and Presidio Park.

You can see a sculpture of George Marston on my blog here, and the garden of his beautiful, historic house, which is located in the northwest corner of Balboa Park, here.

George F. Stockton
George F. Stockton

Lt. George F. Stockton’s tragic drowning on August 21, 1921 prompted the creation of the City of Oceanside Lifeguard Service. He was pulled out to sea by a rip current. He had served on the World War I ship USS San Diego.

Edward McGurck
Edward McGurck

Col. Edward McGurck was born in Ireland. He purchased property on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street in 1876 for $50. In 1887 he developed the McGurck Block Building at that location.

Monument to the Kurtz family.
Monument to the Kurtz family.
Daniel Brower Kurtz
Daniel Brower Kurtz

Daniel Brower Kurtz has an important San Diego street named after him. He arrived in San Diego in 1850 and was elected second city mayor in 1851. He also served as a state senator, county judge, and assemblyman.

James Edward Friend
James Edward Friend

James Edward Friend was an enterprising reporter and newspaper publisher in the early days of San Diego.

Seeing his name brought a smile to my face. He was a good friend of Bum, San Diego’s Town Dog, and figured prominently in the wonderful book titled The Dog That Belonged to No One. Any young person living in San Diego should read this short book. It’s quite enjoyable, full of history and good humor.

Captain James Friend was also known as a friend and benefactor to San Diego’s newsboys.

You can read about Bum, San Diego’s lovable Town Dog, and see his sculpture in my blog post here.

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 share and enjoy!

Photos of Memorial Day at Mount Hope Cemetery.

San Diegans gather for a dignified Memorial Day ceremony on GAR Hill at Mount Hope Cemetery.
San Diegans gather for a Memorial Day ceremony at Mount Hope Cemetery.

The second Memorial Day event that I attended yesterday took place at Mount Hope Cemetery. I had never before visited this history-filled municipal cemetery.

Mount Hope is where many of San Diego’s early residents are buried. It’s hilly and sprawling, with thousands of scattered headstones and monuments. Thousands of names are eternally engraved.

The dignified Memorial Day ceremony was held atop GAR Hill. I learned that G.A.R. stands for Grand Army of the Republic.  The fraternal organization is composed of veterans who fought on the Union side during the American Civil War. On grassy GAR Hill rest many Union soldiers who fought bravely.

The annual event, I also learned, is organized by both the Sons and Daughters of Union Veterans, and Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy. Over a thousand Civil War veterans are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Yesterday afternoon I stood and watched a moving tribute to those who had fought in the war that ended slavery. Some of the participants wore Civil War uniforms and period dress. History came to life with eloquent words of remembrance, and the singing of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Amazing Grace. Several speakers recalled the men who fought, their sacrifices, and the triumph of liberty. Our current times were also addressed. It is necessary to stay firm in the defense of freedom.

This year the ceremony honored one Civil War soldier in particular: Henry Neal Fletcher, 4th Corporal, Company G, 3rd Iowa Cavalry. He fought for the Union. Both of his grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary War. From them he learned how freedom was won. He died a beloved member of the San Diego community.

The idea for Memorial Day is thought to have come from the tradition of decorating soldier’s graves in late spring with flowers, a custom that predated the Civil War. During the war, with so many dead, the practice became very common. The tradition finally became formalized, and known as Decoration Day.

On this Memorial Day, atop a quiet hill, I saw many flags decorating the graves of soldiers.

While some gathered for the ceremony, others read the nearby gravestones and wondered at the sacrifices made long ago.
While some prepare for the ceremony, others read the nearby gravestones and wonder at the sacrifices made long ago.
American flags decorate the graves of fallen soldiers.
American flags decorate the graves of fallen soldiers.
This grave marker design was established by the Grand Army of the Republic. Here lies a Union soldier. Sergeant Francis E. Webster, 10th U.S. Infantry.
This grave marker design was established by the Grand Army of the Republic. Here lies a Union soldier. Sergeant Francis E. Webster, 10th U.S. Infantry.
Some participants wore Civil War uniforms--both blue and gray. They posted the flags and provided a musket salute.
Some participants wore Civil War uniforms–both blue and gray. They posted the flags and provided a musket salute.
This restored mortar dates from the American Civil War. It stands on GAR Hill at Mount Hope Cemetery.
This restored mortar dates from the American Civil War. It stands on GAR Hill at Mount Hope Cemetery.
One of many gravestones. Here lies P.W. Bradbury, a scout under General Fremont.
One of many old gravestones. Here lies P.W. Bradbury, a scout under General Fremont.
Honor guards perform March On The Colors.
Honor guards perform March On The Colors.
Speeches follow an Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance.
Thoughtful speeches follow an Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance.
Holly Kirkman of John Muir School reads her inspirational, award-winning essay What Memorial Day Means to Me.
Holly Kirkman of John Muir School reads her inspirational, award-winning essay “What Memorial Day Means to Me.”
Dedication Of Flowers. Red, then white, then blue flowers are placed by the grave marker of Henry Neal Fletcher.
Dedication Of Flowers. Red, then white, then blue flowers are placed by the grave marker of Henry Neal Fletcher.
The program included a short biography of Henry Neal Fletcher who fought in the Union Army. (Click image to read.)
The program included a short biography of Henry Neal Fletcher, who fought in the Union Army. (Click image to read.)
Musket Salute.
Musket Salute.
Taps.
Taps.
Remembering the fallen on Memorial Day, at Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego.
Remembering the fallen on Memorial Day, at Mount Hope Cemetery 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!