I am awestruck anew!
Now that the weather is inching ever Spring-ward, I take a walk in that nearby park almost every day. Today it felt seriously spring-like, once the dense FOG lifted, that is, and I felt like I wanted to spend all morning in the park. [Do not confuse my early Spring Fever with any desire whatsoever to flee from my freakin’ DESK — Ed.] (ha ha)
Anyway. It was really lovely out there, and I know that as soon as the weather gets really nice, the park is going to get crowded with people. So I’m trying to get as much of that alone-time with nature as I can right now.
To prolong this morning’s walk, I decided to walk up the big hill in the park and go take a close-up look at the Vietnam War memorial at the top of it. (Here is a photo of it that I found online. You need to click on it to see it better.)
If you are not from a place like Ohio, then the shape of the war memorial might prove elusive to you. However, it is in the shape of a giant stone arrowhead. This whole town is nothing but ancient Indian burial mounds, and Native Indian artifacts, etc. , not to mention Native Indian ancestry among its population so an arrowhead makes reasonable sense. (My own Native American ancestry is, oddly enough, from Montana — a long, long way from here.)
So I walked to the top of the ever-upward-sloping hill and, of course, the view was really lovely from up there. But what really took my breath away was when I discovered that the war memorial had been built to honor 3 soldiers who had died in Vietnam. Three.
I’m so used to war memorials that honor many dozens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of soldiers, that to find one dedicated to 3 took my breath away. 2 had been Marines and one had been in the Army.
To give you some perspective on that number: about 3,400 soldiers from Ohio died in Vietnam.
This particular war memorial has not only the stone statue, but also has permanent floodlights on it, 2 park benches, 3 flags, and it’s landscaped with paving stones and various shrubbery. It is also meticulously maintained without a single bit of litter anywhere.
That, to me, speaks volumes about how much a town can grieve for the lost lives of 3 young soldiers, nearly 50 years ago, in what became a really unpopular war.
As I was making my way, teary-eyed, down the hill, it occurred to me that every single park bench and every tree in the park, except for the various copses scattered around the edges, was put there or planted in memoriam of someone beloved who had died. Each park bench has a memorial plaque, and every tree has a plaque describing what kind of tree it is, along with who donated it and to whose memory it was planted. The tree plaques date from the mid-1980s up to a few months ago. In fact, one Middle School class, back in 1998 planted a tree to the memory of an infant boy named Steven who lived only 7 days. The tree is mature and strong now and blossoms every spring… No mention of who the parents of the baby were. But what a tribute from the young teenagers — all of them grown now — of such a small town.
I am much more accustomed to living in big cities — and sometimes massively huge cities — where this kind of space just isn’t available. Most memorials are put in place by rich people, otherwise, it’s just done out at the cemeteries.
I guess this is one of the reasons why this particular park overwhelms me with such good feelings every time I walk in it. And in the summer will come the local baseball games, the volleyball games, the cookouts, and the fireworks on the 4th of July.
Who knows if I will still be living here then, but if I am, I’m looking forward to it.
Okay. Back at it around here, gang. Plenty of re-writes await. Have a great Monday, wherever you are and whatever you’re up to! Thanks for visiting. See ya!