A San Diego New Year’s wish: Peace on Earth.

Morning light shines on plaques originally called the San Diego Peace Memorial.
Morning light shines on monument originally called the San Diego Peace Memorial.

A fervent wish for this New Year: May There Be Peace on Earth.

Perhaps it’s futile to expect peaceful human coexistence on this crazy, mixed up planet. It often seems that way. That’s unfortunate. But it would be even more tragic to completely lose hope.

The creators of one poignant local memorial certainly yearned for the end of war. Because they understood war is brutal.

A row of plaques stand on the east side of the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park. Originally called the San Diego Peace Memorial and installed in Old Town in 1969, the silent monument was renamed the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial in 1996 and moved to this location. It lists all San Diegans who were killed or designated missing in action during the Vietnam War.

Today’s Veterans Museum and Memorial Center is housed in the former chapel of the old San Diego Naval Hospital, which was built during World War II. Throughout the history of mankind, wars have invariably reminded us of the sanctity of peace.

In 2015, May There Be Peace on Earth.

People head into the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park.
People head into the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park.
Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial was originally located in Old Town.
Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial was originally located in Old Town.
Small American flags remember those who sacrificed in a difficult war.
Small American flags remember those who sacrificed in a difficult, controversial war.
Names of San Diegans who lost their lives fighting the Vietnam War, 1965-1975.
Names of San Diegans who lost their lives fighting in the Vietnam War, 1965-1975.
Flag flies above Veterans Museum, formerly the San Diego Naval Hospital Chapel.
Flag flies above Veterans Museum, formerly the San Diego Naval Hospital Chapel.

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American heroes honored at Veterans Museum.

On steps of Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park.
On steps of the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park.

Today a special event was held at Balboa Park’s Veterans Museum and Memorial Center. The Spirit of 1945 National Day of Remembrance honored American veterans who defended freedom around the globe during World War II.

The Spirit of ’45 is an annual event held throughout the United States in many cities. It marks the anniversary of V-J Day, the day the Japanese finally surrendered and World War II ended. The special event has become increasingly important, as thousands of heroes from The Greatest Generation now pass away every year.

Many San Diego dignitaries attended today’s ceremony, including an ex-mayor, city council member, district attorney, police chief, plus some very high-ranking military officers. But in my mind, the day was all about ordinary Americans who personally sacrificed to do an extremely difficult and very important thing.

Several of these heroes recalled in short speeches what it was like to hear the news that the war had ended. You could hear the emotion in their voices, almost 70 years later.

After the ceremony, veterans told their personal stories inside the museum, so that memories will continue of those times and their deeds.

Spirit of 1945 National Day of Remembrance was held near museum.
Spirit of 1945 National Day of Remembrance was held near the museum.
Memorial for combat wounded veterans is one of nearby monuments.
Memorial for combat wounded veterans is one of the nearby monuments.
Color guard poses for me while they wait for event to officially begin.
Color guard poses for me while they wait for the event to officially begin.
World War II veteran helped into museum side door.
World War II veteran helped by serviceman into museum side door.
Tents line walkway where Spirit of 1945 event took place today.
Tents line walkway where Spirit of 1945 event took place today.
Girl Scouts help to check in the honored veterans.
Girl Scouts help to check in the honored veterans.
Over a hundred vets were in attendance, remembering the war's end.
Over a hundred vets were in attendance, remembering the war’s end.
Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial had a display.
Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial had a display.
Filipino-American Military Officers Association Tent.
Filipino-American Military Officers Association tent.
Clowns and face painters were there to entertain kids.
Clowns and face painters were there to entertain families with kids.
Duty Honor Country is at the center of a small circular plaza.
Duty Honor Country written at the center of a small circular plaza.
And so are some dancers enjoying the nearby band playing swing music!
Dancers enjoy the nearby band playing swing music!
Now it seems everybody's dancing!
Now it seems everybody’s dancing!
Here are the musicians. Big band music was playing from the 1940s era.
Here are the musicians. Big band music was playing from the 1940s era.
B-24 Liberator bomber from World War II rises above a nearby fountain.
B-24 Liberator bomber from World War II rises above a nearby fountain.
Now I'm standing in back area where chairs were under shady trees.
Now I’m standing in back area where chairs were under shady trees.
Nearby, guys in vintage military uniforms look at some historical images.
Nearby, guys in vintage military uniforms look at some historical images.
Kids check out a tent and various items carried by soldiers decades ago.
Kids check out a tent and various items carried by soldiers decades ago.
Many were wearing clothing and uniforms common during World War II.
Many were wearing clothing and uniforms common during World War II.
Display on grass shows maps and articles from a battlefield.
Display on grass shows maps and articles from a battlefield.
Scattered items inside a command tent include old magazines.
Scattered items inside a command tent include old magazines.
One got a flavor of the experiences of the Greatest Generation.
One got a flavor of the difficult experiences of the Greatest Generation.
Here comes color guard, prior to National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance.
Here comes color guard, prior to National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance.
Veteran talks about Victory in the Pacific and how overjoyed the troops were.
Veteran talks about Victory in the Pacific and how overjoyed the troops were.
A generation of veterans listens as speakers honor their sacrifices for freedom.
A generation of veterans listens as speakers honor their sacrifices for freedom.
Veterans salute a general who spoke about his pride for those who served.
Veterans salute a general who spoke about his pride for those who served.
A bust to be set near B-24 Liberator is unveiled by the artist and others.
A bust to be set near the B-24 Liberator sculpture is unveiled by local artist Richard Becker. To the far right stands retired Brigadier General Robert L Cardenas, USAF.
Bust of a brave World War II aviator.
Bust of Brigadier General Robert L Cardenas , an accomplished World War II aviator. The sculpture was created by renowned San Diego artist Richard Becker.
Everyone listens to happy memories of V-J Day on August 14, 1945.
Everyone listens to happy memories of V-J Day on August 14, 1945.
Crowd was twice the size that had been expected.
Crowd was twice the size that had been expected.
The ceremony ends and I take a pic over beautiful flowers.
The ceremony ends and I take a pic over beautiful flowers.
Sailors help the aging American heroes back to their cars.
Sailors ready to help aging American heroes back to their cars.

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