2012  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   JIM'S BIKE RIDE DOWNTOWN, INCLUDING THE
VIETNAM MOVING WALL & VETERANS' MEMORIAL

SATURDAY, JUNE 30

 
"In honor of the men and women of the armed forces of the United States who served
in the Vietnam War. The names of those who gave their lives and of those who
remain missing are inscribed in the order they were taken from us."
 
~ Preamble of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
 
 

In my first entry dated June 30 I explained that Jim and I went our separate ways for several hours today.

Jim, a Vietnam veteran, knew that the Vietnam Moving Wall was in Anchorage for several days. He wanted to take advantage of today's warm, sunny weather to go downtown to see this half-scale replica of the large wall in Washington, D.C.

The Moving Wall, which includes the names of all 58,195 men and women who died or are still missing, is on display in the Delaney Park Strip for a week.

As the next two photos show, the panels stretched nearly a block across the park:

 

We have visited the original full-scale wall in Washington, D.C. twice and Jim has also seen the Moving Wall two times previously in other cities.

A half-size replica was built and has been traveling across the country for more than twenty years, giving many people who are unable to travel to Washington, D.C. the opportunity to honor the people who sacrificed their lives in this lengthy conflict.

So many cities wanted to have the Moving Wall on display that a second replica of the panels was produced several years ago. It also tours the country.


Visitors are reflected in the mirror-like panels of the Moving Wall.

Many of the visitors who view the exhibits are Vietnam veterans themselves, like Jim. Others know servicemen and women who died in the war. Still others just want to pay tribute to some of the people who have sacrificed their lives serving our country.

One reason Jim wanted to attend the exhibit on this particular day was a memorial service that was held at 1 PM to honor the 86 Alaskan military service members who died in conflicts in Viet Nam, Iran, Afghanistan, and Grenada. He timed his arrival so he could walk around the exhibit and then listen to the memorial service.

JOURNEY ON TWO WHEELS 

I preferred to use this sunny day for a hike in the Chugach Mountains about ten miles away, which meant taking the truck.

Jim offered to ride his bike downtown from the camper to see the Wall and attend the ceremony. There are bike trails most of the way, including several miles through Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), where we are camped.

It was a great day for a bike ride. Jim ended up with a total of about 28 miles. He had fun riding, got a good workout, and saw much more than if he'd been driving the truck.

On the way to the Moving Wall exhibit he stopped to take some panoramic photos above Ship Creek. I showed these three pictures in a previous entry about this historic area of downtown but I'll include them here again since he took them on this ride:


View toward the Port of Anchorage


View toward Alaska Railroad corporate offices (red building);
the brown roof in the foreground is the Ulu Factory.


View toward downtown

After taking those pictures Jim rode up the hill to mosey through the farmers' market, the long horizontal line of (mostly) white canopies in the center of the photo above.

The market is held during the summer on Saturdays and Sundays. It is located in a large parking lot across from the main post office. 

Its too early for produce but Jim reported there were lots of other food items and crafts for sale.

It was so crowded he had to walk his bike around the perimeter of the booths and didn't get to see them all. He was OK with that; he wasnt interested in buying anything he could see.

I'd like to go to the farmers' market when we come back to Anchorage in several weeks. Hopefully there will be some of Alaska's superlative produce for sale then. (Veggies can get quite large when they have 20+ hours of sunlight a day!)


Food fare includes halibut and salmon, two fish for which Alaska is well known.

This is a very busy weekend in Anchorage. In addition to the farmers' market, which draws a large crowd every week, many people went downtown to see the Moving Wall and there is a large cruise ship docked at the port. That means hundreds of extra visitors downtown.

There are several other smaller events happening, too.

After he left the farmers' market Jim ran into a raptor (birds of prey) demonstration in another one of the parks downtown. He stopped to watch for a little while. It may have been the regular Saturday presentation by the Alaska Public Lands folks, part of the series we enjoyed the first Tuesday we were here re: sled dogs. He didn't get any photos of the birds.

THE MOVING WALL

Jim got some lunch at a sandwich shop, then rode to the location of the Moving Wall (the Delaney Park Strip, which is about ten blocks long and one block wide). He found the names of two soldiers he knew in Vietnam, as well as at least three guys he knew who attended his high school in Illinois.

When you know people whose names are on that wall, it has extra significance. It's doubly significant if you were in the conflict and risked your own life.

 

 

Each panel in the Wall is numbered. Since the servicemen and women are listed in the order in which they died, not alphabetically, there is an alphabetical list to locate people's names. It denotes which panel they are on. Although each panel includes dozens of names we've found that the names we're searching for kind of jump out at us once we're looking at the correct panel.

As Jim was walking around the Wall exhibit an officer in a handsome military uniform thanked him for coming. Jim recognized him when he spoke during the ceremony hes the Brigadier General who runs the Alaska National Guard.

Jim wished he had known that when the man was talking to him. In addition to serving in the Army, Jim was also in the National Guard. He retired from the Guard which is how he's able to camp at military installations and enjoy the other perks that military retirees have justly earned.

Several other people also spoke during the hour-long ceremony. The names of all the Alaska service men and women who died in Viet Nam (58), Iran, Afghanistan, and Grenada (another 28 in those three conflicts) were honored.

Above and below:  "To those Alaska veterans whose eyes have seen what the protected will never know."

I'm including two links here for further information about the Moving Wall.

The first is to the official website, which has a schedule for upcoming appearances of the two walls. They travel around the country from April to November. The second link is to an online news article dated June 26 about the Wall and the memorial service that was writen by local TV station KTVA.

If you're in Washington, D.C., we highly recommend visiting the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial that is run by the National Park Service. It's very impressive and can be an emotional experience even if you don't know any of the dead or missing soldiers or never served in the military.

Jim was pretty tired when he got home at 4 PM but he had enough energy to wash the dog, the camper, and four loads of laundry!

Next entry:  a summary of other activities and observations during our two-week visit in Anchorage

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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