Support Veterans Village with a brick or paver.

Order a Veterans Village courtyard brick or paver and help Veterans who have been homeless, or at the risk of homelessness. Provide hope, love, compassion and understanding.
Order a Veterans Village courtyard brick or paver and help Veterans who are homeless, or at the risk of homelessness. Your donation provides real hope. The words you choose radiate compassion and understanding.

Veterans Village of San Diego provides a helping hand to those Veterans in our city who are homeless or at the risk of homelessness. This critically important organization provide housing, rehabilitation, education, job training and a safe place to regain hope and a sense of belonging.

Veterans Village also organizes the annual Stand Down, where homeless Veterans can receive a smile, a handshake, breakfast, clothing, showers, a hair cut, makeovers, plus free medical, dental and vision services. At Stand Down homeless Vets can also access court services, VA benefit and job counseling, and much more.

You can support the mission of Veterans Village by putting a special message on a brick or paver in their beautiful courtyard location. Messages of support, compassion and love will be read by many who might need a little inspiration. Your generosity makes the world better.

To learn more about Veterans Village, or if you have a question about purchasing a brick or paver, click here!

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How to get support from fellow Veterans in San Diego.

I discovered a program in San Diego that provides advice and support for Veterans. It’s a confidential peer-to-peer program, where Veteran volunteers mentor other Veterans. The program is called “Vet to Vet” for that reason.

I found out about this program while walking randomly around Balboa Park. A notice was pinned to a bulletin board and I took a photo. According to the information, the meetings of Vet to Vet are confidential and no appointment is needed. It’s a safe place to be for a couple hours a week. All the info you need is right here–click the photo and it will enlarge:

Click this photo and it will expand for easy reading. You'll find information on meeting places and some phone numbers.
Click this photo and it will expand in size for easy reading. You’ll find important information on meeting places and a few phone numbers.

If you’re a Vet who’d like to volunteer, or if you’re a Vet who’d like a little support or someone to talk to, or you’re just curious and want to learn more, give that phone number on the flyer a call! And if you know a Veteran in San Diego who might appreciate a helping hand from someone who has walked in their shoes, why not pass along the info?

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Photos of America’s best Fourth of July parade!

Many say the best Fourth of July parade in America takes place every year in Coronado. Thousands of spectators line Orange Avenue and watch a glorious two hour parade that stretches from one side of the island to the other.

This year I managed to take a bunch of good photos. You can get a flavor of the patriotism and the appreciation our community has for those who serve in the military. Coronado, of course, is home to many Navy SEALs and a Naval Air Station, including two active aircraft carriers. And San Diego is home to most of the Pacific Fleet and a large number of Marines. Over the years, many veterans have also settled down in our fair city.

I saw many smiling families and much love of country on this Independence Day. These photos (except for the one above) are in chronological sequence. First we see a crowd gathering along the parade route…

The Star-Spangled Banner was sung before the parade commenced. Hats came off, and some saluted.

The kids were drawing poop circles. If a horse makes a deposit inside your circle, you win!

Here we go!

These guys, under the direction of a Drill Instructor, periodically reenacted Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima during the parade.

A wounded warrior received a Thank You and loud cheers.

People crossed Orange Avenue during breaks in the parade.

Those guys in the classic cars are Pearl Harbor survivors.

There were some guys engaged in Star Wars cosplay at this point during the parade. Check my previous blog post to see photos of that!

That’s just a taste of what is arguably the best Fourth of July parade in America!

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Combat veterans create art to bring hope.

A unique work of urban art on a car wash in Normal Heights speaks to the struggles of combat veterans.
A unique work of urban art on a car wash in Normal Heights. It speaks to the struggles of combat veterans.

Painful. Hopeful.

Those two words might describe some artwork on the side of a car wash in Normal Heights. You can find this thought-provoking mural near the corner of 33rd Street and Adams Avenue.

A nearby plaque invites curious eyes. Thank you for your service, it reads.

The mural is the work of seven post-911 combat veterans. A project of Combat Arts San Diego, it helps to spread awareness about the therapeutic benefit of creating art. And it shows the unconditional love that is provided by service dogs.

Creating art helps us to sort through conflicting thoughts and emotions. Art is an outlet for pent up pain. Art connects people. Art stirs the heart. Art provides meaning. Art offers hope.

This mural was created by seven combat veterans working with Combat Arts San Diego. Art-making benefits those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
This mural was created by seven combat veterans working with Combat Arts San Diego. Art-making benefits those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Art over fear.
Art over fear.
A warrior. A jumble of emotions. Isolation. A true best friend. Hope.
A warrior. A jumble of emotions. Isolation. A true best friend. Hope.

UPDATE!

Wow! Shortly after posting this I received additional info concerning this great project and a group photograph of those responsible!

I learned:

“There are hidden things in the art piece. If you look hard enough you can see Army written and Navy and others… If you look at ART in the middle on the left you will see from the A…rmy attached to it. Then on the right towards the bottom you will see the N in friends…you will see Navy… In (the word) Isolation – the A..ir Force is on the A. Just below the O in Isolation you will see some letters D E S P..if you look close at the S you will see a U in the bottom of the S and then the MC on the other side of the S. Look close.”

I also learned that the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution raised funds for the project from their National Society.

The following photo includes Elizabeth Washburn, the leader of Combat Arts, two Vets who worked on the mural, and a few smiling local members of the D.A.R.

Group picture with Artists, Elizabeth, and San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution members.
Group picture with artists, Elizabeth Washburn, and San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution members. Photo provided by 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!

Mormon Battalion celebrates Flag Day in Old Town.

Mormon Battalion flag flies during a special event in Old Town San Diego.
Mormon Battalion flag flies during a special event in Old Town San Diego.

I was invited to a unique event that took place yesterday. A special Flag Day Ceremony was held at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site in San Diego’s Old Town. The event remembered World War I and saluted all American veterans.

During the ceremony five veterans from different military services were made honorary members of the Mormon Battalion. A cake was cut with a military saber and an American flag that has been flown over the U.S. Capital and over Fort Leavenworth (where the historic Mormon Battalion originated) was raised.

The patriotic ceremony was organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members composed the Mormon Battalion, the only religiously based unit in United States military history. Commanded by regular U.S. Army officers, members of the battalion marched almost 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Diego, California to help secure the region during the Mexican–American War. Much of the difficult march was over mountains and through desert. They saw no fighting.

I have noticed that Mormons treasure liberty–religious freedom in particular. I’m not a Mormon–very far from it–but I do happen to be a strong believer in personal liberty. That’s because I’m a writer. Also, as a child I traveled with my family behind the Iron Curtain twice. I have briefly seen how dark life is without liberty.

A friendly Mormon lady in pioneer dress welcomes guests to the Flag Day Celebration.
A friendly Mormon lady in pioneer dress welcomes guests to the Flag Day Celebration.
This 2017 celebration of Flag Day honored veterans who served with distinction.
This 2017 celebration of Flag Day honored veterans who served with distinction.
Guests are welcomed by Director of the San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site, Elder Michael Hemingway.
Guests are welcomed by Director of the San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site, Elder Michael Hemingway.
The United States flag is posted after the National Anthem.
The United States flag is posted after the National Anthem.
Folding of the flag. Each of the thirteen folds is invested with a special meaning.
Folding of the flag. Each of the thirteen folds is invested with a special meaning.
Four American veterans on stage are honored and made honorary members of the Mormon Battalion.
Four American veterans on stage are applauded and made honorary members of the Mormon Battalion.
Keynote speaker General Bruce Carlson, USAF, Ret. talks about liberty. He is also made an honorary member of the Mormon Battalion.
Keynote speaker General Bruce Carlson, USAF, Ret. talks about liberty. He is also made an honorary member of the Mormon Battalion.
Many voices sing God Bless America.
Many voices sing God Bless America.
Young members of Marine Band San Diego after the ceremony.
Young members of Marine Band San Diego after the ceremony.
The United States Marine Corps bus contains an image of the flag being raised during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The United States Marine Corps bus contains an image of the flag being raised during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Pageantry and remembrance at a Flag Day Ceremony in Old Town San Diego.
Pageantry and remembrance at a Flag Day Ceremony in Old Town 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!

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!

Memorial Day at The Veterans Museum in Balboa Park.

Vietnamese Community of San Diego wreath stands in front of the San Diego Peace Memorial.
Vietnamese Community of San Diego wreath stands by Peace Memorial.

Today I attended two Memorial Day ceremonies.

First, in the morning, I walked up to Balboa Park.  There I joined others in remembering those who’d lost their lives in a terrible war. An emotional ceremony was held at the San Diego Vietnam Peace Memorial, which is located right next to The Veterans Museum. Special attention was given during this event to those who died serving their country during the Vietnam War.

Please forgive me. When I arrived I was in a quiet mood. I stood off to the side mostly, took no notes, snapped a photo now and then. I mostly just absorbed the speeches, the music, the flowers, so many names on bronze plaques and proud salutes by veterans in attendance. I felt a bit shy and didn’t grab a program. I regret that now. I forget the names of the speakers, and the lady who sang so beautifully.

Members of Vietnam Veterans of America, 472, were present. Before the morning program commenced, they had read names of the fallen–the Calling of the Names.

Many from the local Vietnamese community also attended. Some among them had fought in the war.

I remember that the keynote speech was very clear and very powerful. It was about service, and courage, and liberty, and friendship, and pain, and sacrifice, and history. It acknowledged the horror of war. Those who fought would rather have been at home in peace. All gave some; some gave all.

Those whose names are eternally engraved on the Peace Memorial have earned the gratitude of many.

Here are a few photos.

Flags are presented.
Flags are readied.
Salutes.
Salutes.
A dignified program commences. The Vietnam War is remembered, and those who fell during the conflict are honored.
A dignified program commences. The Vietnam War is remembered, and those who fell during the conflict are honored.
Speeches recall the harsh realities of war, and the democratic ideals many fought to defend.
Speeches recall the harsh realities of war, and the democratic ideals many fought to defend.
All quietly listen, some remember.
All quietly listen, some remember.
Joyful, triumphant singing. America the Beautiful.
Joyful, triumphant singing. America the Beautiful.
Love for country. Young and old salute.
Love for country. Young and old salute.
A folded flag above the plaque marking the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial in Balboa Park.
A folded flag above the plaque marking the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial in Balboa Park.
Names of San Diegans who were killed or designated missing in action during the Vietnam War fill half a dozen bronze plaques.
Names of San Diegans who were killed or designated missing in action during the Vietnam War fill half a dozen bronze plaques.
Flags, flowers and photos. A loved family member.
Flags, flowers and photos. A loved family member.
On March 7, 1971, at the age of 21, David Jesus Naranjo perished in the service of our country in South Vietnam, Quang Nam.
On March 7, 1971, at the age of 21, David Jesus Naranjo perished in the service of our country in South Vietnam, Quang Nam.

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!