VEND-o-MATIC supplies Faith, Hope, Peace, Love.

An unusual VEND-o-MATIC vending machine on El Cajon Boulevard near 52nd Street dispenses Faith, Hope, Peace and Love. Place your hand where indicated, make the selection of your choice by pressing a button, and the goodness is beamed directly through your arm into your heart.

From the way the paint has aged, I guess this VEND-o-MATIC has probably seen a great deal of use.

You can never have too much of good things.

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!

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.

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Peace and Arrows public art in National City.

Arrows, by Brenda and Flojo, public art near the 24th Street trolley station in National City.
Arrows, by Brenda and Flojo, public art near the 24th Street trolley station in National City.

Some very cool public art adds color to a sidewalk near the 24th Street trolley station in National City. You can find it at the east edge of the trolley station’s parking lot, next to Wilson Avenue.

Two small but colorful sculptures have been created by Youth Artists. One, titled Peace, is by Michelle. The other, titled Arrows, is by Brenda and Flojo.

I’ve done some searching on the internet and can find nothing about these public sculptures. I don’t recall seeing them during past visits to the South Bay, so I believe they are relatively new.

All I know for certain is that this artwork is really cool!

Peace, by Michelle, public art near the 24th Street trolley station in National City.
Peace, by Michelle, public art near the 24th Street trolley station in National City.
Photo of two cool sculptures in National City. A lavender peace sign is framed by two red arrows!
Photo of two cool sculptures in National City. A lavender peace sign is framed by two red arrows!

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!

Bells of Peace ring on a special Veterans Day!

The historic California Tower rises into the blue sky above San Diego's beautiful Balboa Park.
The historic California Tower rises into the blue sky above San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park.

This morning, at 11:00 am, the carillon bells of Balboa Park’s iconic California Tower chimed twenty-one times. These symbolic Bells of Peace marked the centennial of Armistice Day.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, exactly one hundred years ago, World War I finally came to an end.

In the United States, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday that honors American veterans who’ve served their country in war and in peace. So this morning, when the clock struck eleven, on what might be called the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day, a special ceremony accompanied the ringing Bells of Peace. Flags were presented and voices lifted in front of the Museum of Man.

These photographs relive that ceremony…

Bells of Peace rang out for the 100th Anniversary of Veterans Day! A special ceremony was held in front of the Museum of Man.
Bells of Peace rang out for the 100th Anniversary of Veterans Day! A special ceremony was held in front of the San Diego Museum of Man.
People gather for a symbolic, emotionally powerful event.
People gather for a symbolic, emotionally powerful event.
Gina Seashore, who plays the carillon inside the California Tower, addresses those who have gathered for the Veterans Day ceremony.
Gina Seashore, who plays the carillon inside the California Tower, addresses those who have gathered for the Veterans Day ceremony.
The patriotic Color Guard, from Ramona High School's NJROTC, moves forward as the ceremony begins.
The patriotic Color Guard, from Ramona High School’s NJROTC, moves forward as the short ceremony begins.
Flags advance to the front of the Museum of Man.
Flags advance to the front of the Museum of Man.

A trio sings the National Anthem.
A trio sings the National Anthem.

After the carillon bells ring twenty-one times, Taps is played.
After the carillon bells ring twenty-one times, Taps is played.

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 stirring preview of World War I opera All Is Calm.

Dr. Nicolas Reveles of San Diego Opera provides an overview of All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914.
Dr. Nicolas Reveles of San Diego Opera provides an overview of All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914.

Yesterday I sat on a folding chair inside the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park blinking my eyes. Several voices singing divinely about our essential humanity had nearly brought me to tears.

I’d just enjoyed a short but stirring preview of San Diego Opera’s upcoming production of All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914. This unique chamber opera is a mixture of the spoken word and male singing unaccompanied by instruments.

Together voices relive a profound moment during the horrific trench warfare of World War I, when “soldiers from France, England, and Germany ventured into no-man’s land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Soldiers exchanged food and gifts, swapped prisoners and performed burials, and played football and sang Christmas carols.”

The inspirational opera All is Calm contains no original music. It is composed entirely from music that was popular just before the onset of World War I, hymns and timeless Christmas carols. The actual letters of common soldiers and orders from officers are among the historical texts that are interwoven with song. Young soldiers from both sides, manning hellish trenches that were infested with rats and lice, made even more miserable with winter rain and freezing snow, are moved to walk out into the field of fire, risking their lives, to share a moment of common humanity.

The opera will be staged in early December in downtown’s Balboa Theatre, a smaller and more intimate setting than the San Diego Civic Theatre, where San Diego Opera usually performs. There is some singing in French and German, but the opera is primarily in English. Silent Night is sung in different languages by many voices, which eventually combine and rise together as one. Music moves the human heart like nothing else can.

The brief preview of All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914 was simply amazing.

It gave me goosebumps.

These smiling ladies welcomed me to the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, where a few parts of the opera All Is Calm were previewed.
These smiling ladies welcomed me to the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, where parts of the opera All Is Calm were previewed.
Visitors to the Veterans Museum look at a large mural on one wall before the program begins.
Visitors to the Veterans Museum look at a large mural on one wall before the program begins.
One exhibit in the Veterans Museum includes artifacts and ephemera from the First World War. A gas mask speaks of trench warfare's horrors.
One exhibit in the Veterans Museum includes artifacts and ephemera from the First World War. A gas mask speaks of trench warfare’s horrors.
Director of All Is Calm, Juan Carlos Acosta, tells the audience about the making of this unique chamber opera.
Director of All Is Calm, Juan Carlos Acosta, tells the audience about the making of this very unique chamber opera.
Historical image of a young man who left home and went off to war in the early 20th century.
Historical image of a young man who left home and went off to war in the early 20th century.
Juan Carlos Acosta, Timothy Simpson and Walter Dumelle sing together in a short but stirring preview of All Is Calm.
Juan Carlos Acosta, Timothy Simpson and Walter Dumelle sing together in a short but stirring preview of All Is Calm.
All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914 is an inspiring opera that reminds one and all of our essential humanity. It will touch your heart deeply.
All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914 is an inspiring opera that reminds one and all of our essential humanity. Its music touches the heart.

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!

If you’d like to read a few stories about life, click Short Stories by Richard.

A world of peace, joy and hope.

My previous blog post seeped with terrible darkness. It showed us a human world that contains brutality, selfishness and despair.

But you know, if we chose, our world could look like this:

During my walk through Balboa Park today, I paused among the International Cottages to experience the peace, joy and hope that are possible when different people with different experiences simply love life and come unselfishly together.

Members of the House of Czech and Slovak Republics, with their smiles, dance and music set a wonderful example for us all to follow.

The choice is ours to make.