I was recently discussing the future of the Vietnam Memorial Project with the wife of my friend who had inspired it, and I admitted that I’d realized that, as I was catching my second wind, it felt unlikely that I would capture all of the memorials in California because they are constantly changing. Some had been stolen and replaced, while new ones were being erected, most often in high schools. How prescient our discussion proved since the next memorial I rephotographed, in Stockton, had changed since my last visit.
The Stockton Vietnam Memorial has been of special interest to me since I spoke with one of the members of the steering committee of the Capitol Vietnam Memorial in Sacramento who worked with B.T. Collins in fund raising and other areas, and who specifically mentioned the striking number of names that were listed from Stockton. It was then that I knew the Stockton memorial was one I wanted to visit quickly.
When I first visited the memorial I couldn’t help but notice that it was weathered and in a state of disrepair. I also noticed that there was something inviting about the memorial, because people touched it as they walked by. Particularly children. I photographed it with my 4x5 camera and went deeper into town and bought a hot dog from a vender who turned out to be a Navy veteran.
When I arrived this time with my 8x10 camera, I was surprised to see that the old memorial was replaced with this new one. This modern one is as gorgeous as the previous memorial, and I’m glad that it retains the same general shape of the last memorial. Color is a new addition, and this memorial faces the opposite direction, so the viewer faces towards the the road and library rather than the park when viewing it. That means that there is more room for crowds to stand during events. A dried wreath remained leaning against the monument from memorial day, which I kept in place for the photograph.