The very first memorial honoring Vietnam War veterans is in New Mexico
In early September, we were fortunate to be able to spend a lovely week in the Enchanted Circle area of northern New Mexico, and one of the most memorable sights we saw during that week sits atop a hill near the small community of Angel Fire. In fact, we could see it off in the distance from the RV park where we stayed during the week. When I researched sites to visit in this area ahead of time, this one stood out as a “must-see” spot, so we planned our visit for Wednesday.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park at Angel Fire is actually the very first memorial to honor Vietnam Veterans and was also the inspiration for the large memorial that now resides in Washington D.C. Over time, people have placed red bricks here to honor family members and other loved ones that served, and they border the sidewalks throughout the memorial.
I have always had a personal connection to this war because my brother served in it for two consecutive years. My brother was fourteen years older than me, and I was a young child while he served. I remember writing letters to him regularly, and we also put together a box of goodies for him every other week and sent it by mail. In later years, he often shared how much he looked forward to receiving those care packages, too. I lost my dear brother back in 2007 to diabetes and congestive heart failure, but this visit brought back so many memories of him and this time period in history.
Many specific memories of my brother’s service came flooding back to mind as I toured this beautiful memorial. It’s amazing how things like this can go dormant in our minds until something prods them back to the forefront so vividly. As I looked at the various exhibits in the small museum, the memories continued to return, especially seeing those red, white and blue air mail envelopes that we always used to mail our letters to my brother.
The story of how this memorial came to be is so special and so touching, and I encourage anyone to read more about it on the memorial’s website. I won’t take the time to try to share it here, but it is well worth the time to read about it. You can also make a contribution to help support the memorial, if you would like to do so.
The weather was overcast on the day of our visit, and while the conditions kept me from capturing better quality photos, it provided the perfect setting to match my rather somber mood while I toured the facility. Before we finished our tour, I also made the decision to order a brick to honor my brother and have it placed there in his honor and memory. I look forward to returning to the memorial again someday to see his name and service honored along with so many other veterans.
I’ll just let my photos share the rest of the story about this touching place, and I’ve opted to share quite a number of them today because this placed touched me so much.
I would highly encourage anyone visiting this area to visit this beautiful memorial for an hour or two or even longer if you want to explore the museum in more detail. I’m so glad we took the time to visit this special, yet somber, place. It is free to visit. Donations are accepted from those that would like to make a contribution to help with upkeep of the memorial.