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!

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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.

Faces of civil rights leaders on Imperial Avenue.

A street mural in San Diego that features many famous faces. Martin Luther King, Jr. is joined by others who have worked to advance civil rights.
A street mural in San Diego that features many famous faces. Martin Luther King, Jr. is joined by others who have worked to advance civil rights.

A long mural at the corner of 32nd Street and Imperial Avenue celebrates many of history’s most recognized civil rights leaders. Among them are those who have fought to empower the poor, advocates for democracy, human equality and social justice, and peacemakers.

Originally painted in 1986 to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., the mural was restored and augmented in 2002 by internationally renowned muralist and activist Mario Torero with the help of the local community. The mural now includes faces from around the world, as you can see in these photographs.

The colorful mural spans two walls near the border of two neighborhoods east of downtown San Diego: Logan Heights and Stockton. The images have again faded with time, but the idealism represented remains timeless and powerful.

The face of Cesar Chavez.
The face of Cesar Chavez.
The face of the Dalai Lama.
The face of the Dalai Lama.
The face of Óscar Romero.
The face of Óscar Romero.
The face of Corazon Aquino.
The face of Corazon Aquino.
The face of Desmond Tutu.
The face of Desmond Tutu.
The face of Nelson Mandela.
The face of Nelson Mandela.
The face of Mother Teresa.
The face of Mother Teresa.
The face of Chief Joseph.
The face of Chief Joseph.
The face of Mahatma Gandhi.
The face of Mahatma Gandhi.

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!

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!