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.

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Photos of Bill Muncey Memorial and plaques.

The Bill Muncey Memorial stands on Mission Bay’s beautiful Vacation Isle, on a grassy spot just north of the Ski Beach boat launch ramp. It rises above the nearby blue water like a wing flying through the sky.

Bill Muncey is a legend in hydroplane racing. He is considered by many to be the greatest hydroplane racer in history. The gracefully curving memorial honors his contributions to the sport, and the creation of a 2.5-mile oval hydroplane racecourse in San Diego’s Mission Bay.

The memorial contains two bronze plaques. The first reads:

BILL MUNCEY UNLIMITED HYDROPLANE COURSE
PRESENTED TO THE PEOPLE OF SAN DIEGO
BY THUNDERBOATS UNLIMITED IN THE
MEMORY OF BILL MUNCEY, WORLD CHAMPION.
62 CAREER VICTORIES
4 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
7 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
8 GOLD CUP WINS

The second plaque, which depicts the smiling face of Bill Muncey, reads:

“just running and playing like all the kids I know…”
Bill Muncey 1928-1981

There is a third plaque on a nearby park bench that remembers Bernie Little, legendary owner of the famous Miss Budweiser team. It reads:

IN MEMORY OF
Bernie Little
1925-2003
“The King of Boats”
THE WINNINGEST UNLIMITED HYDROPLANE OWNER IN HISTORY
134 UNLIMITED HYDROPLANE RACES
14 APBA GOLD CUPS
22 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
“IF YOU AREN’T TRYING TO WIN…WHY WOULD YOU RACE?”

To learn more about Bill Muncey and the Bill Muncey Unlimited Hydroplane Course on Mission Bay, visit the San Diego Bayfair’s history web page here.

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Scenes from Memorial Day in San Diego.

This morning I went to a Memorial Day ceremony at the San Diego Vietnam Peace Memorial, next to Balboa Park’s Veterans Museum. Representatives from San Diego’s Vietnamese community attended. They presented a wreath in remembrance. A beautiful new POW/MIA monument was revealed. (See my previous blog post.)

I and others then boarded an Old Town Trolley Tours bus. We were driven by our amazing Vietnam veteran driver Sam to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. There we attended the 119th Memorial Service and Day of Remembrance.

We heard deeply felt tributes to those who have served and sacrificed. Many wreaths were presented. Hearts poured out.

Thousand of tiny flags fluttered in the sea breeze.

Come along with me…

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!

POW/MIA monument unveiled at Veterans Museum.

A beautiful new POW/MIA monument was unveiled today at the San Diego Vietnam Peace Memorial, outside the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park.

During a moving Memorial Day ceremony, a black cloth concealing the monument was removed, revealing a gorgeous mosaic showing the American flag, a soaring eagle, and at the center the POW/MIA emblem. The artists who created the mosaics at the Vietnam War Memorial in La Mesa were also responsible for this stunning work.

In a stirring speech we learned that the remains of 67 missing in action were identified and brought home in the last year. Those who lost their lives on our nation’s behalf will not be left behind.

And they will never be forgotten.

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 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!

Aviation history at Waldo Dean Waterman Park.

A small public park, recently created in Bankers Hill, is named for San Diego aviation pioneer Waldo Dean Waterman.
A small public park, recently created in Bankers Hill, is named for San Diego aviation pioneer Waldo Dean Waterman.

Last month a small public park opened in Bankers Hill at the edge of narrow Maple Canyon. The park is named after Waldo Dean Waterman, an inventor and early aviation pioneer who was the first in San Diego to fly a heavier-than-air machine. He made that flight into Maple Canyon in 1909, at the age of fifteen!

Waterman experimented with unique aeronautical designs for most of his life. He invented the first tail-less monoplane in the United States, called the Whatsit, which was the very first aircraft in history to use now standard tricycle landing gear. He then designed the Arrowbile, which was the first successful flying car!

Waldo Dean Waterman Park is a beautiful and inspiring addition to our city. For generations to come, the park will remain a living monument to a visionary man who made several important contributions to aviation history!

A resident of Bankers Hill walks his dog through the beautiful park. Local aviation history was made here in 1909.
A resident of Bankers Hill walks his dog through the beautiful park. Local aviation history was made here in 1909.
Beautiful blooms at Waldo Dean Waterman Park in Bankers Hill.
Beautiful blooms at Waldo Dean Waterman Park in Bankers Hill.
Sign summarizes the life and accomplishments of Early Bird aviation pioneer Waldo Dean Waterman, a resident of San Diego. He flew a glider at the age of 15 from this site into Maple Canyon below.
Sign summarizes the life and accomplishments of Early Bird aviation pioneer Waldo Dean Waterman, a resident of San Diego. He flew a glider at the age of 15 from this site into Maple Canyon below. (Click image to enlarge.)
Plaque dated July 1, 1959 commemorates Waldo D. Waterman for his many contributions to the science of flight.
Plaque dated July 1, 1959 commemorates Waldo D. Waterman for his many contributions to the science of flight.

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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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!