Viet Nam Veteran's Memorial, Sacramento, CA by Lenny La Rue, IPA

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Viet Nam Veteran's Memorial, Sacramento, CA by 

This extremely touching monument is in the State’s Capitol Park, location of the State Capitol. From this distance, the photograph doesn’t come close to doing it justice. It could have 50 different shots and not show the same images in this memorial. Thousands of names are inscribed around it, each noting one of California’s own who didn’t return from the war alive. Large, embossed copper sculptures adorn the interior walls, life-sized images of the war carefully rendered. The two empty cartridges from a warship frame the main entrance and a flower box was part of the design, circling the outer walls. A detailed map of the country is made into the ground and, of course, the American Flag is always there, properly lit from three sides as mandated by Federal law for flying at night.

But the thing that will wring every last bit of emotion from even the hardest heart is the sculpture of the soldier shown seated just inside the walls. He’s young, no older than his 20’s, but with the eyes of one who has seen hell many, many too many times. Un-stooped and not the slightest bit slouched, he is nonetheless lost to the world he called home and trapped in a place where he can’t win by “winning” or “losing” a war. There is hope on his face but it seems the hope of elsewhere: this moment being one he is allowed to experience, a quiet precious few seconds when he can ponder something other than a tomorrow identical to today.

I lost nobody I loved in Viet Nam. I only had close contact with a single soldier who was shell-shocked into forcing the neighbourhood kids to march to his ‘orders’. He scared the living daylights out of me. He almost scared me worse than the letter demanding I register for the draft But he didn’t come close to scaring me as much as receiving my Selective Service System Status Card, SSS Form 7, commonly referred to as a draft card with my classification of “1A”. That meant I was headed into a place I was familiar with from the CBS Nightly News with Walter Cronkite: napalm, body counts, and explosions close enough to knock over the cameramen and camerawomen filming for the news.

I missed the war because America’s involvement in it ended before I was sent.


history, memorial, wars, soldiers, california, nam, viet, sacramento, draft

I’m a “scatter-focus” artist. ANYTHING may be here or roundabout my galleries. Expect nothing anywhere and you’ll always be OK. ;-)

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  • CLiPiCs
    CLiPiCsover 5 years ago

    War sucks !

    I always thought fighting for peace was like F(*&^G for virginity

    I come from a generation that had the aftermath of WWII to contend with, and my Father was imprisoned by the Germans and then forced to work for them clearing houses of people he knew in order for Germans to use the house for their soldiers,

    I was born in Guernsey in the Channel Islands, between the UK and France, the only parts of the UK to be occupied by the Germans, as a child we owned “German Helmets” as so many were just left lying around, and for us kids it was an adventure to explore the many bunkers dotted around the coastline of the island, in the innocence of youth it never occured to us how painful these concrete monoliths were to our parents,

    May 9th every year is celebrated as “Liberation Day” when the brits returned, the Germans surrendered and the island was returned to it’s inhabitants,

    sorry to barge in but the subject is relevant,

    and yet another great image Lenny

    Love ’N Laughter


  • Bro, I welcome all sorts of “barging in”. It keeps the conversation alive and I GREATLY appreciate your perspective regarding the UK and war.

    The image you shared is incredible and I’ll be digging around like a madman to better understand the history behind this fascinating chapter I’ve never even heard of before! The Germans actually took a piece of the UK?!?!? And built things like this ABOVE ground?? They were pretty sure of their air superiority to be this bold and put up TOWER bunkers. I think they were feeling medieval and built copies of English castles without the castle. :-O

    And what’s up with all the rebar poking out of the concrete? Looks like they weren’t concerned about determined people attempting to mount an assault by ropes. Are these artifacts still accessible to the public?

    Damn, now I wanna know all about this. If you can point me to a meaty online source, I’ll gladly chomp into this. Wow.

    Bro, if you don’t know yet that I’m more than tolerant of ALL additional contributions to my pieces, you know it now. You got something to say, show, feel, or silently share, you are welcome here, my friend. :-)

    – Lenny La Rue, IPA

  • Karirose
    Kariroseover 5 years ago

    The memorial is quite a touching one and you’ve taken a nice shot of it. I like how the shot isn’t straight on thus allowing the soldier of whom you wrote to be the center focus. Nice.

  • It seemed like there was only one way to shoot the most revealing glimpse and this was it. Straight on, the impact was there but, like you said, the focus was shifted. This was a photograph I had to think about; it didn’t come easily or immediately. It is deeply rewarding that the effort was noted by an observer. Thank you very much.

    – Lenny La Rue, IPA

  • sweetscent62
    sweetscent62over 5 years ago

    A very unusual monument LL… I agree with Karirose (surprise..surprise) I also like the angle..and the “soldier” in the image. well done! My American cousin went to Vietnam. I only met him once..when I was 4 and I remember seeing him off at the airport going back after leave..and how my mother and I cried our eyes out. I remember hearing the end of the Vietnam war on the radio….I was at the after school babysitter’s place. I remember being very relieved. I wrote a letter to him….but he never replied. I don’t know why.. he passed away last year I discovered …from a search I did on the internet. (he was an actor and played the role of the father in “Fiddler on the Roof”) Someplace there is a photograph of him in Vietnam….I’m sure it’s amongst my mother’s things. I guess I’ll get to see it again one day..and when I do I’ll post it. Thanks for reminding me about him : ). A great image LL…and a wonderful tribute to all Vietnam veterans. P.S. Glad you never had to go there!! Wen xox

  • I thank you sincerely, Wendy. Many of those who died at home died from exposure to Agent Orange used to defoliate the dense Vietnamese landscape. I hope your cousin lived a comfortable and peaceful life after his service. Thanks also for sharing this personal part of the story. :-)

    – Lenny La Rue, IPA

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