Here is an idea for one of the sites you might put on your travel plans in this New Year.
On a stretch of high country road just north of Weed, California, on highway 97, you will find an unusual, out-of-the-way site that will make a small side trip off the main North/South I-5 interstate highway, well worth your while.
If you take advantage of this opportunity, you will find a unique and very special Living Memorial Garden, the ongoing result of decades of work by a lone Vietnam veteran and gifted sculptor. With his own hands and his artistic skill he has created, in this unique landscape, a powerful and quite moving statement of respect for those who have served. He has done it with the vibrant and dramatic forms of his own sculptures.
In conceiving this Memorial Garden and making these powerful statues he has been confronted his own memories of war, and has also created a stunning tribute to all fellow veterans.
There are several pictures in this article that will give you a sense of the love, the dedication, and the artistic skill of this man who has lived almost a hermit’s life up in this pristine and beautiful setting. He has shaped his sculptures to imitate the natural surroundings where the wind and dryness of the Northern California high country has made the trees iron hard and formed them often into wild and strange shapes.
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These powerful sculptures also bespeak the physical, psychological, and soul deep wounds and scars that combat veterans often carry silently within themselves throughout their lives. There is also a Memorial Wall in the park that is much like The Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
New names are added to this wall on Memorial Day and Veterans Day each year.
If you are a veteran, if you know a veteran, or carry a deep respect for those who serve, this might be something to put on your to-do list for this new year. If you are in, or passing through northern California, get off of I-5 in the little mountain town of Weed, get on Hwy 97 and head north about 14 miles.
There is a sign at the turn off into the Living Memorial Garden and there is a large parking lot. Then, take a couple of hours to walk through the grounds and to see these memorial sculptures and to think about those who have fought for us, those who have given their last full measure, and those who have come home and are still sometimes haunted by the wounds of war.
The Veterans Site wishes all Veterans and their families a Happy, hopeful, and peaceful New Year. We remember those who are presently serving around the world and pray for their swift and healthy return to their homes and families in this New Year.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.