That being said, I wonder how many of these Canadians take a side trip to Riverside, some 60 miles East of LA? Bet not many! And that is a shame.
As you drive to Riverside you drive past a sign saying Ontario. Don't be confused. Even they have one of them! As you pull into Riverside and drive towards March Air Reserve Base you will find the Riverside National Cemetery across the road.
On opening day, 11 November 1978, it conducted it's first internment. This was a hero and Medal of Honor recipient named S.Sgt Ysmael Villegas who received his medal posthumously after being killed in battle in the Phillipines in WW11. His re-internment ceremony was attended by a large gathering that included no less than 15 other MOH recipients. Today there are 4 MOH recipients at rest there. The latest I believe being Colonel Lewis Millett whom you met in this space in the blog on December 15th. I had the honor of attending this hero's funeral a few years back.
Beyond this is a small pool of water that drops from a device that release many streams of water when turned on. When the site was first opened in November of 1999, and attended by 85 Medal of Honor recipients, there was a seperate stream of water being ejected into the pool for each living medal recipient. As I first entered this memorial I entered with somewhat of a splash, to the entertainment of many. The sun was facing me and it was blinding. I moved forward and walked right into the pool. Soaked to mid thigh, I exited to find several folks trying to figure out if they should be offering to help..or laugh. Most tried both. Within an hour the incedible power of the sun had my pants quite dry.
Below are four photo's with close ups of some of the names you should recognize. York, Lindenburgh, Bennett, Byrd, Murphy and William F Cody. (Buffalo Bill)
These massive blocks of marble stand about 7 feet tall and perhaps four feet across.
These markers are very significant to every reader as they contain all the names of the recipients, US, Canadian and from around the world.
I visted this memorial on about 7 different trips while in California on 2 seperate ocassions. And often when I visited for yet more pictures, I would see folks running their fingers along the inscriptions honouring their relatives. It was not only quite moving, and humbling, but an incedible honor to have been able to make these trips to visit some of Canada's heritage, and all readers are encouraged to make the trip some day.
So who are the famous fellows in these pictures. I suspect few can pick them out. First... they are all famous... they are heroes who have been awarded the medal.
But the names you may not recognize are John Grady to start with, in the upper left, who was New Brunswick born and earned his medal at Vera Cruz in 1914. In the upper right is ALonzo Pickle who was born at Farnham in Canada East, and earned a medal in the Civil War. Below him is George Low also known as George Evatt who is another CW recipient, born somewhere???? in Canada, yet to be discovered. And finally in the lower right is George L Houghton from Yarmouth Nova Scotia who earned his medal also in the Civil War.
In each of my trips I have taken photos of yet more Canadians discovered who have earned the Medal of Honor. I have over 100 of them. These however also include some who were not Canadian born, but have some connection to the country.
And it makes me quite proud to say that of the 38 panels at this monument, one of the above numbered men are on at least 28 of these panels. Canadians have every right to feel very proud of these men and a side trip to run your fingers along the engraved names will leave you with a feeling that you hopefully will not forget for a very long time.
Family came from BC, Alberta, Ontario, several parts of the US and even London England. Family met family for the first time. And with this very exciting ceremony along also came not one..but two Medals of Honor owned by the proud family of Mr. Youngs. (One of the medals was a replacement when the design changed) Pictured here at Riverside are some of the decendants from Ontario, and second from the right is the then, and current serving Mayor of that community with her husband at her side.
It was most humbling to see the family handling the medals, get to know each other and coming to Riverside with me... even thought we all got lost enroute, hehe, and to see these folks actually going up to the wall and running their fingers along the inscription of their proud ancenster.
Putting this passion to work Lee, as a sculputre, made a miniature of what you see above. It represents both the MIA and the POW and as a result of his readings on Lt. Sijan, he decided to actually use a likeness of Sijan's face on the monument which is looking up tp God with open hands.
Lee's work came to be known by a group with similar feelings and connected to the Riverside cemetery. They ultimately commissioned him to make a three times life size image of that pictured above. But Lee talked them down to a 1and a 1/2 size piece so that it would be short enough so that the viewer can see the face and the struggle within that all POW's and MIA must have gone through, and perpaps continue to do in many cases.
In 2005 the US Congress designated this bronze sculpture as a National Monument to those Missing in Action and to Prisoners of War from all actions in US history.
Again a trip to the LA area and Riverside without seeing this monument would be a dis-service to the Millett family and to heroes all around the world who have and continue to pay the price for our freedom.
I'll show you some Canadian graves in California tomorrow.