When I first began researching California Vietnam Memorials over 15 years ago for this project, there were only a few shown on the internet. As odd as it seems now, the internet at the turn of the century wasn't a place that had nearly the information that it has today (which is both good and bad, Sturgeon's law being what it is).
Because there was so little online, I ordered books through the university library, and learned that there were a few outdated books available about the memorials, and nothing current. None of them listed the memorial at Sonoma State University. One of the books listed the Vietnam Memorial at Alta Loma High School in Rancho Cucamonga, and I immediately became fascinated. It was the only high school memorial listed in the texts I had.
(Vietnam memorials at high schools have been increasing, which I find very interesting. Two of the newest memorials in the state, one being in San Rafael, have been in high schools.)
Since the Alta Loma High School memorial was the first high school memorial I learned of, it's always been special to me. The first time I photographed it, the image didn't work. The second time, I met with the school security officer there who was also a veteran of Desert Storm. Though that image was fine, it didn't work once I moved the project to 8x10.
This time when I visited the memorial it was a weekend and quiet, as expected. What I didn't expect is that the beautiful red roses would be in full bloom. The wind was still (finally!), and I set up the Green Monster to make my shot. There was a shift, and a small wind arose as I focused, shaking the flags and blossoms, though it wasn't bad. When the moment was right I made the exposure.
Listed on the memorial are the seven graduates of Alta Loma High School who died in Vietnam. A gold and black plaque at the top left lists the graduate who died in Operation Enduring Freedom.
At the base of the memorial, not readable in the photograph is a poem.
To youth life is forever –
These gave their lives
So freedom could be forever