BY PAT McDONNELL TWAIR
This was the rallying cheer for veterans who gathered on Veterans Day 2009 at the padlocked Wilshire/San Vicente gate to the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus. They were protesting plans to turn sixteen acres of VA land into a public park.
A TV reporter talked with international banker and World War II veteran Dan Overmyer, 85, who denounced the VA for donating the land to private interests while as many as 20,000 homeless veterans are in need of shelter and care in Los Angeles. As two veterans, Mark Reed and Ari David, who are candidates in California’s 27th and 30th congressional districts, looked on, Overmyer said: “We’re obligated by the original owner who gifted this property to veterans to conserve it for its original purpose and only for that purpose.”
What makes veterans so hot under the collar was summed up in the words of Francisco Juarez of VVA Redondo Beach Chapter 53: “Statues and memorials to veterans are nice, but the best way to honor dead veterans is to take care of the living veterans.”
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BY MICHAEL KEATING
Tlingit legend has it that the ancestors traveled a passage under the glaciers, possibly along the Taku or Stikine Rivers, from what is now British Columbia to the southeast Alaska coast. There they entered into a land of spectacular beauty.
Vast, impenetrable forests of red cedar, hemlock, spruce, and fir crowded the shore and wrapped the snow-capped mountains. Tumbling, frigid rivers supported five varieties of salmon, and in the woods were vast populations of deer, beaver, bear, and many other mammals and birds.
Stretched before them was the endless vastness of the sea. In fact, the sea was all around them; it had cut vast fjords and sliced islands all along the coast. The Tlingit people became as adept at sea as on land. In their carved boats, they shared the seas with abundant wildlife, including seals and whales.
They knew this was a holy land, and they treated it with wonder and respect. Because the animals had souls and were counted among their ancestors, hunting was also a spiritual quest.
It was a temperate and beautiful land, but subject to long spells of rain. Sometimes, the crystalline sky could shatter under the weight of fast-moving thunderheads. Owls stuttered a dirge at night, ravens alternately mocked and teased them, and eagles showed them the most refined fisher’s art.
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BY ALBERT J. NAHAS
That these dead shall not have died in vain;
That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom;
And that this government of the people, by the people, for the people
Shall not perish from the earth.
Lincoln’s words are engraved on what is likely the first state-approved Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Vermont Vietnam Veterans Memorial, an unadorned granite monument reflecting the rugged individualism and strong patriotism of Vermont, stands in silent watch at the Sharon rest stop on I-89. Looking south, the beauty of the valley resembles Highway One in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.
The mid-1970s saw the establishment in Vermont of the Project to Advance Veterans’ Education. PAVE’s goals were to keep veterans in school, to help them with employment and health issues, and to secure upgraded discharges. In December 1979, this outreach led to the establishment in Rutland of VVA Chapter 1.
By 1981, the idea for a memorial for fallen comrades began to surface. Montpelier, the state capital, was a natural choice, but the beauty and accessibility of Sharon led to acceptance of this rest stop as a better location. An approved site, the donation of a consensus-choice monument, and state approval in early 1982 led to a dedication two weeks before the dedication of The Wall in Washington, D.C.
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