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!

People meditate (or have fun) walking a labyrinth.

Visitors to Balboa Park walk the meandering single path of a labyrinth near the Botanical Building.
Visitors to Balboa Park walk the meandering single path of a labyrinth near the Botanical Building.

Life is a bit like walking a labyrinth. We navigate twists and turns on our forward path.

Yesterday I saw a cool labyrinth set up on a lawn in Balboa Park, right next to the Botanical Building. String was laid on the grass, creating boundaries defining the path.

A labyrinth is not a maze. The walk is peaceful, the sudden smooth turns reorient one’s vision, there is no hurry. Many use labyrinth walking for meditation. It also looks like fun exercise!

Walking through a curving labyrinth can provide meditation, bringing together body, mind and spirit. Everyone is on their own path through life. (Click image to read.)
Walking through a curving labyrinth can enhance meditation, bringing together body, mind and spirit. Everyone is on their own path through life. (Click image to read.)
It's a beautiful December weekend in Balboa Park. There is much to do, much to see. Our walk through life takes many turns.
It’s a beautiful December weekend in Balboa Park. There is much to do, much to see. Our walk through life takes many turns.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! Navigating downtown streets can be like moving through a labyrinth! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

Photos of Chinese warship visiting San Diego.

The Chinese frigate Yancheng, docked in San Diego at the Cruise Ship Terminal. It is part of a four day visit by ships of the People's Liberation Army Navy.
The Chinese frigate Yancheng, docked in San Diego at the Cruise Ship Terminal. It is part of a four day visit by ships of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

This morning I got a few photos of a Chinese Navy warship that will be visiting San Diego for four days. The ship I saw docked at the Cruise Ship Terminal is the frigate Yancheng, which is part of the People’s Liberation Army Navy Surface Force. Two additional Chinese Navy ships arrived during the day. I saw them in the darkness after work during an evening walk along the Embarcadero. Those two other ships are the frigate Daqing and the oiler Tai Hu.

The intent of the visit is to foster trust and mutual understanding between two military powers–the United States and China. In addition to cultural exchanges, visiting Chinese and local American sailors will enjoy playing games of table tennis and basketball together. In a small, sometimes turbulent world, perhaps it is good to make friendships.

United States military personnel walk along the B Street Pier during a visit of the Chinese Navy to San Diego.
United States military personnel walk along the B Street Pier during a visit of the Chinese Navy to San Diego.
Another photo of the Chinese frigate Yancheng, docked in San Diego Bay on December 6, 2016.
Another photo of the Chinese frigate Yancheng, docked in San Diego Bay on December 6, 2016.

The once-mysterious origin of a U. S. Navy bronze plaque on display in San Diego has come to light. Learn more about this fascinating bit of San Diego and Navy history by checking out my blog post Creating a plaque: Navy history in San Diego revealed!

Groundbreaking at Balboa Park’s International Cottages!

People gather for an important groundbreaking in Balboa Park. Five new cottages will be the home of nine nations at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
San Diego residents with diverse backgrounds gather for an important groundbreaking in Balboa Park. Five new structures will be the home of nine nations at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.

Today was an exciting day in Balboa Park! A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages, where nine member nations look forward to eventually moving into five brand new structures! Because there is limited space in this particular area of Balboa Park, four of the structures will be duplexes shared by eight nations; the fifth will be home to the House of the Philippines.

Colorfully dressed representatives from the Philippines, Peru, Mexico, India, Lebanon, Turkey, Panama, Korea and Palestine (not presently a nation, but a culture) participated in the groundbreaking. If all goes according to plan, they’ll have their cottages completed by the end of 2017, just in time for December Nights!

As many in San Diego know, several changes and improvements might be coming to Balboa Park, including an underground parking garage behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, a very short distance from the cottages. A huge parking lot near the center of Balboa Park will be replaced with grass, gardens, walkways and more beautiful park! Watching all of this proposed construction should be quite interesting! Stay tuned!

A gentleman from the House of Palestine stands near a flag where a new cottage will be built that showcases Palestinian culture.
A friendly gentleman from the House of Palestine stands near a flag where a new cottage will be built that showcases Palestinian culture.
Three duplex cottages will be built in this area south of the existing cottages, behind the House of Ukraine and House of the United States.
Three duplex structures will be built in this area south of the existing cottages, directly behind the House of Ukraine and House of the United States.
Two ladies in colorful dress enter the Hall of Nations Building for a special groundbreaking reception.
Two ladies in colorful dress enter the Hall of Nations Building for a special groundbreaking reception.
The Hall of Nations Building has been used on a rotating basis by member nations who don't presently have a cottage. Today a reception was held inside celebrating the groundbreaking of five new international cottages.
The Hall of Nations Building has been used on a rotating basis by member nations who don’t presently have a cottage. Today a reception was held inside celebrating the groundbreaking of five new structures.
Two cottages will be built in this area, north of the House of Iran and the Hall of Nations Building. In this photo a crowd is gathering for the historic groundbreaking ceremony.
Two structures will be built in this area, north of the House of Iran and the Hall of Nations Building. In this photo a crowd is gathering for the historic groundbreaking ceremony.
The original House of Pacific Relations cottages were built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. Pacific means peaceful, and that was the intent of the cottages--to promote friendship between nations and mutual understanding.
The original House of Pacific Relations cottages were built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. Pacific means peaceful, and that is the intent of the cottages–to promote friendship between nations and mutual understanding.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer addresses those attending the long-awaited groundbreaking. Many dignitaries spoke, and those who are working hard to complete the expansion were honored.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer addresses those attending the long-awaited groundbreaking. Many dignitaries spoke, and those who’ve been working tirelessly to complete the expansion were honored.
Beauty queens from the House of Panama stood proudly with others near the podium.
Beauty queens from the House of Panama stood proudly with others near the podium.
The nine member nations who will be receiving new cottages all participated in the traditional groundbreaking ceremony. Lifting these shovels are representatives from the House of Korea.
The nine member nations who will be receiving new cottages all participated in the traditional groundbreaking ceremony. Lifting these shovels are representatives from the House of Korea.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

Help non-profits educate, unite, heal the world.

Use your words to speak in a kind way. Help others as you go throughout your day...
Use your words to speak in a kind way. Help others as you go throughout your day…

If you didn’t have a chance to visit the International Non-Profits Fair in Balboa Park today, here are some photos that might inspire you. I walked through and met many smiling people, all of whom are working unselfishly to make this world a better place.

The fair, put on by The Worldview Project, is all about people from different cultures coming together for mutual understanding, increased tolerance, education and peace. It’s about positive people working to create a better, more happy world. I just strolled through casually, talking to some exhibitors and learning a little, taking a picture here and there. Perhaps you’ll see something that makes you want to explore further. Click the photos to enlarge them, if you’d like to read a poster or bit of information!

People in San Diego's Balboa Park have gathered to learn how to make the world a better place. Many non-profits were represented at an annual fair put on by The Worldview Project.
People in San Diego’s Balboa Park have gathered to learn how to make the world a better place. Many non-profits were represented at an annual fair put on by The Worldview Project.
Some of the values highlighted at the Kids For Peace table. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Some of the values highlighted at the Kids For Peace table. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Nice ladies from the United Nations Association of the USA, San Diego Chapter, smile for a roving blogger's camera!
Nice ladies from the United Nations Association of the USA, San Diego Chapter, smile for a roving blogger’s camera!
A few musical instruments from around the world were on display at this table.
A few musical instruments from around the world were on display at this table.
The Center for World Music promotes awareness, skills and knowledge of the rich performing arts traditions of the world in San Diego area schools.
The Center for World Music promotes awareness, skills and knowledge of the rich performing arts traditions of the world in San Diego area schools.
The San Diego Asian Film Festival is coming up! It runs April 28 to May 5 at the UltraStar theater in Hazard Center.
The San Diego Asian Film Festival is coming up! It runs April 28 to May 5 at the UltraStar movie theater in Hazard Center.
These friendly folks are representing the German American Societies, who host El Cajon's authentic Oktoberfest!
These friendly folks are representing the German American Societies, who host El Cajon’s authentic Oktoberfest!
More nice people! These guys tried without success to get me to dance. Sorry! The Cabrillo International Folk Dancers meet at the Balboa Park Club.
More nice people! These guys tried without success to get me to dance. Sorry! The Cabrillo International Folk Dancers meet at the Balboa Park Club.
CRY America has a hopeful vision of the world, where all children, everywhere, have equal opportunities to develop to their full potential and realize their dreams.
CRY America has a hopeful vision of the world, where all children, everywhere, have equal opportunities to develop to their full potential and realize their dreams.
Survivors of Torture International. Sometimes we might forget how horrible life for some in this world can be, and the unspeakable suffering they experience.
Survivors of Torture International. Sometimes we might forget how horrible life for some in this world can be, and the unspeakable suffering they experience.
One way to help Survivors of Torture International is to enroll in a free community program when you shop at Ralph's. Please read this poster for more info.
One way to help Survivors of Torture International is to enroll in a free community program when you shop at Ralph’s. Please read this poster for more info.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County needs you! Operation Bigs seeks civilian, retired and active military adult volunteers to serve military children.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County needs you! Operation Bigs seeks civilian, retired and active military adult volunteers to serve military children.
Map of San Diego County shows hundreds of children ready to be matched with caring adults. We need more bigs!
Map of San Diego County shows hundreds of children ready to be matched with caring adults. They need more “bigs”!
Climate Kids educate youth about climate change through art, storytelling and science.
Climate Kids educates youth about climate change through art, storytelling and science.
The American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties was represented at the international non-profits fair in Balboa Park.
The American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties was represented at the International Non-Profits Fair in Balboa Park.
License to Freedom works to stop violence in refugee and immigrant communities in San Diego County.
License to Freedom works to stop violence in refugee and immigrant communities in San Diego County.
You are loved. Your are so strong. You are worthy. Life is beautiful!
You are loved. Your are so strong. You are worthy. Life is beautiful!

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Taking a lesson from the Great Kindness Challenge!

A challenge for every person, both young and old. Very simply: be kind. (Click this image to enlarge!)
A challenge for every person, both young and old. It is very simply: Be kind!  (Click this image to read the poster!)

Have you heard of the Great Kindness Challenge? I hadn’t, until today.

The Great Kindness Challenge is put on by Kids For Peace, and I learned about it while I walked this morning through the International Non-Profits Fair in Balboa Park. (I’ll blog a little about this inspiring event shortly.) I was really struck by a thoughtful Kids For Peace poster challenging school students to engage in acts of kindness.

What an excellent idea! It seems this reminder to be compassionate, helpful and polite might apply to people of all ages. Sometimes we adults, during our hectic, numbing day-to-day routines, might benefit from a little lesson about the importance of having a warm heart and positive outlook!

Here are just a few of the 50 challenges. These are appropriate for both young and old…

Smile at 25 people.

Compliment 5 people.

Pick up 10 pieces of trash.

Make a new friend.

Tell a joke and make someone laugh.

Hug your friend.

Entertain someone with a happy dance.

Say “Good Morning” to 15 people.

Step up for someone in need.

Hold the door open for someone.

Learn to say “Hello” in a new language.

Create your own kind deed.

New international cottages to be built in Balboa Park.

New International Cottages display explains expansion plans in Balboa Park. Photo taken during December Nights.
New International Cottages display explains expansion plans in Balboa Park. Photo taken during December Nights.

If everything goes according to plan, ground will be broken in 2016 at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. Nine new international cottages are going to be built in Balboa Park!

The nations looking forward to having new cottages are Mexico, India, Colombia, Lebanon, Palestine, Peru, Panama, Turkey and the Philippines. While Palestine today is a community of people rather than a recognized nation with borders, like Scotland they’ll share their culture with Balboa Park’s visitors in their own unique cottage.

Nineteen cottages exist today. Nine more cottages will soon be built. But that still leaves many nations on a waiting list. Each member “House” must raise their own funds for construction, as no taxpayer money is used.

During December Nights, I took a photo of a map showing where the structures will be built. It appears to me there’s room for even more cottages in the future!

Map shows where nine new structures will be built at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
Map shows where new structures will be built at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
Six new international houses will be built in this grassy area, which is southwest of the existing cottages.
Six new international cottages are coming to this grassy area, which is southwest of the existing cottages.
A view from a different angle includes the Balboa Park Club and some bicyclists.
A view from a different angle includes the Balboa Park Club and some bicyclists.
A photograph of some existing international cottages in Balboa Park.
A photograph of some existing international cottages in Balboa Park.
Our purpose is to bring into close association the people of the various national groups . . . to foster and cultivate a spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance and goodwill.
Our purpose is to bring into close association the people of the various national groups . . . to foster and cultivate a spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance and goodwill.
This property is owned by the City of San Diego and is being utilized for the benefit of the general public through the joint cooperation of the city and United Nations Association.
This property is owned by the City of San Diego and is being utilized for the benefit of the general public through the joint cooperation of the City and United Nations Association.
People visit the United Nations Building, at Balboa Park's unique House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
People visit the United Nations Building, at Balboa Park’s unique House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.

UPDATE!

I learned in July 2016 that nearly all the bureaucratic hoops have now been jumped through in order to begin construction. All that remains is approval from the San Diego City Council. It’s hoped the new cottages will be completed in 2017, just in time for the December Nights celebration!

ANOTHER UPDATE!

Now it is hoped the cottages will be completed in 2018. Apparently the construction costs have increased dramatically. And each nation must raise money to build their own cottage.

FINALLY!

Construction began in 2019! You can see one photo of the very early construction here!

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Terror victims remembered at House of France.

French flag and Eiffel Tower as a peace sign. A memorial for the victims of the Paris terror attack.
French flag and the Eiffel Tower turned into a peace sign. Part of a touching memorial for the victims of the Paris terror attack.

A candlelight vigil was held last night at the House of France in Balboa Park. The House of France is a member of the peace-loving House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.

During the vigil, the victims of Friday’s ISIS terror attack in Paris were remembered, and loving support was displayed in San Diego for the good people of France.

I walked by the House of France early this morning. The candles were still lit.

A candlelight vigil was held last night in front of the House of France in San Diego's Balboa Park.
A candlelight vigil was held last night in front of the House of France in San Diego’s Balboa Park.
Candles remain lit the morning after the vigil. Signs, messages, flowers and letters show support for France and love for those who died during the Paris terror attack.
Candles remain lit the morning after the vigil. Signs, messages, flowers and letters show support for France and love for those who died during the Paris terror attack.
Pray for Paris.
Pray for Paris.
Je suis Paris.
Je suis Paris.
Personal sentiments are written down by San Diegans with ties to France. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Personal sentiments are written down by San Diegans, many with ties to France. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Sending our love to Paris and the rest of the world.
Sending our love to Paris and the rest of the world.
La France est la joie de vivre. A memorial for the innocent victims of the Paris terror attack. Hope, love and beauty cannot be conquered.
La France est la joie de vivre. A memorial for the innocent victims of the Paris terror attack. Hope, love and beauty cannot be conquered.