For a year we planned to visit Historic Fort Steilacoom at 9601 Steilacoom Blvd, Lakewood, but they have limited hours (Sundays 1-4 during the summer and the first Sunday of the month from 1-4 from Labor Day to Memorial Day), and we have three different schedules, so it just took that long.
We thought it would be a small museum and perhaps it might be about Western State Hospital, but we were wrong on both accounts. The museum included several buildings and a two hour tour and was completely about the historic fort which had operated on the grounds. The tour guide was so incredibly knowledgeable and explained the fort’s history using the detailed model and in the other buildings to illustrate to us how the soldiers lived. I found it particularly interesting that the army would send representatives back east to meet new immigrants at the docks. The men would be offered transportation to the west coast and a job with room and board. Some eventually received free land. Such an opportunity. The fort’s history can be found on their website, but it is worthwhile to visit in person and go inside the actual buildings and talk to the terrific volunteers.
Talking about the volunteers, the green tint on the two gentleman is completely the fault of the lens! I was told that the lack of smiles is because people didn’t smile for photos in those days. They thought it made them look imbecilic.
The Vietnam Veterans Traveling Wall is in the Auburn Veteran’s Memorial Park at 411 E Street NE this Veteran’s Day Weekend. The exhibit is a half size replica of the Washington DC Vietnam Memorial Wall which was designed by Maya Lin. It was really a very interesting exhibit. So many dead — 58,195 names are listed. And there is an iPhone App to help one find any name by panel number and line. The original wall is listed as number 10 for America’s favorite piece of architecture per Wikipedia. While I was at the park I snapped some photos of the rest of the park including mural art representing many of the major US wars.
On Memorial Day I stopped in the park area next to the Lobster Shop that was displaying a traveling memorial by the Veteran’s for Peace dedicated to the men and women who have died in Iraq since March 2003. Despite the rainy weather people were respectful wandering through the display of headstones, considering the very real cost of war.
I’ve driven past this sculpture in front of the Lakewood City Hall numerous times, but today I actually got out of my vehicle and took a good look at it. There is a lot going on with this piece, nine figures representing people in the military, a large globe, five benches, signage, inscribed bricks and landscaping. The sculpture honors veterans. Among the large metal figures are a Chaplin, a medical person, a foot soldier with his gun, a mechanic and others. The figures are stylized, but it is still apparent the jobs they represent. The primary construction materials are steel and bronze and the sculpture was completed in May 2003.
Per information provided by the Washington City/County Management Association, The project was spearheaded by the Lakewood Veterans Memorial Committee and reminds us of the sacrifices and services of the local military community. It also serves as a link between Lakewood and the large number of active duty, former and retired military personnel in our community. “More than 96,000 veterans reside in Pierce County with over 10,000 living in Lakewood. The memorial is the creation of Gig Harbor artist and military veteran Jim Mattern. (http://www.wccma.org/newsletter/0304wcmanews.pdf)