Portola Valley military tanks heading to East Coast
Original post made on Jan 28, 2014
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 21, 2013, 7:45 AM
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:11 am
What a shame to have lost such a wonderful piece of history here on the West Coast.
We in California, one of the largest and most populous states in the Union, have had countless generations serve in the wars and conflicts within our nation's history. And, although we have massive tracts of land that could be easily used for exactly these sorts of demonstrative museums and memorials -- and have the nation's best assets of both funds and technology -- we have only small military monuments and inconspicuous museums that hint at our nation's past.
Many of the WWI and WWII bunkers, forts, and gun implacements have been stripped and torn down. In the San Francisco area, our Civil War brick gun fortifications have been likewise neglected, buried, or torn down.
One exception that remains is Fort Point, tucked under the Golden Gate Bridge. Despite the heavy presence in California of the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force (Air Corps) and Merchant Marine (and countless training bases), we have managed to put up only a few plaques, monuments/statues.
In SF Bay Area we have docked a restored WWII sub and Liberty Ship, and in Alameda a later-era Carrier (but all with great political fighting and push back from elements within the state).
Many of the War monuments to honor our past service men and women that predate WWI are in shambles and hidden, unadorned from most people. SF's and Monterey's presidio's hold some of the best and oldest structures and monuments in the West Coast, and yet they are often plowed under for development, falling apart, overgrown, or included within other structures that make little or no mention of their past significance.
In Monterey's Military "Defense Language Institute" Base, the large marble statue of Father Sierra's landing (mid 1700's), donated by the Stanford Family, is hidden from public view by freeway development - and sits atop the buried remnants of the first Spanish fort in North America - its bronze cannons sitting idly in a tiny nearby museum, that was a cavalry horse barn during WWI/WWII.
Likewise, on the DLI base, the large obelisk monument to those who fought in the Spanish American War is falling apart and unkempt. In Santa Cruz, where I live, our oldest cemetery holds a special section for those who fought in the Civil War - the Grand Army of The Republic - but it is sorely dilapidated, and overgrown.
My uncle served in WWII in the 101st, 502R, 2nd Bat, HQ Company - jumped on D-Day and went thru the whole battle into Carantan. He later jumped and fought in the Market Garden campaign three months later and was severely wounded in the battle for Best, Holland.
After recovery he served another 20 years in the 101st. And yet when I officiated at his funeral, burying him as a Ret. Colonel in the 101st, he was buried in what is called here in Cal. the "Arlington of the West", in San Bernadino (Southern Cal). This Veteran's Cemetery is a vast and stark swath of dry, flat grass and flat headstones. It is shockingly unadorned and with few, if any, monuments to honor the ocean of those at rest there.
It seems as if we in California bury our garbage dumps with more adornment than that! I was shocked and deeply saddened. We in California have NO museums to tell the stories - no places to demonstrate and teach about the stuff of the past, important military events.
There is little active expression of a grateful people here in California to give homage to those that sacrificed and the historical importance of the battles fought. We have countless places and parcels of land to achieve these museums that would be available to everyone - and many wealthy people to contribute.
But history in the West seems only worthy as a footnote - where current or future needs demand singular focus. It saddens me deeply that Mr. Littlefield's great and rare collection (which gave such rare insight and pleasure to those in California is leaving to the farthest corner of our country - far out of reach for most of the rest of the country.
The new active museum sounds like a beautiful idea - just wish more could see it from around the country. We are starving in the West for military museums that demonstrate history in such a way.
I do wish we as a nation would step forward and make available more places across the country that tell the stories of our military history with vivid colors and wide brush strokes. It seems a hope and dream unattainable in my lifetime - possibly ever here in California. I wish you well in this great venture of teaching history thru tangible ways - so very sweet. I do wish, however, that those here in the West could more easily access and experience it too.
Praying God's Blessings for you, Rev. Lee Purkey
on Jan 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm
Had the opportunity to see this collection with my kids a decade ago - spectacular.
on Jan 29, 2014 at 8:17 am
editor - thanks, much better!!