Veterans’ Sculpture Garden Worth a Stop

cominghome

Dennis Smith’s sculpture “Coming Home.”

If you’re traveling through Siskiyou County and have a bit of extra time, I suggest stopping at the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden near Weed.

I had been hearing about the garden, which honors American veterans of all conflicts and wars, for some time. This weekend I detoured off Interstate 5 for a visit.

I’ll never forget a few years back when I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. and was unexpectedly overcome by emotion and tears. It felt like there was an energy field surrounding that wall and perhaps I was sensitive to the lingering emotions that had been experienced there for years.

The sculpture garden near Weed seemed oddly random to me at first, but when I saw the piece “Coming Home,” I felt a similar rush of emotion in my face.

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“The Nurses.”

The high desert setting is an interesting place to contemplate war and the men and women who have served our country.

The metal sculptures by Dennis Smith, a Vietnam veteran himself, are a powerful and bold compliment to the landscape. I’ve always found deserts to be deeply healing places and this environment, with sensational Mt. Shasta as a backdrop, is perhaps one of the reasons this site works so well as a memorial.

Smith’s abstract and exaggerated figures honor the beauty and frailty of our humanity. The setting is the kind of place where you can feel something emotionally deep and yet be comforted by the sage-filled breeze. I’m not a veteran, but it seems like the kind of place that could be healing to a veteran.

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I like what Smith, a former sergeant in the Marine Corps who took part in the Khe Sanh siege, had to say about the garden.

“Though the arts we have the means to peacefully consider violence and to ask questions as well as to offer possible solutions,” he writes in literature for the sculpture garden.

The sculpture garden is located 13 miles northwest of Weed on Highway 97. Click here for more information about the memorial.

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is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com
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12 Responses

  1. Avatar Vicki says:

    That place is amazing. My Dad name is on the wall.

    • Avatar D R Hann says:

      If your dad's name is on the wall, then you are one of us.
      Soc trang & Cantho 68 / 69

      When I died I'll go to heaven, cause I spent my time in hell

  2. Avatar Laurie says:

    Thanks for this moving story & great photos, Jim; I didn't know about it.

    We'll be visiting as soon as we can.

  3. Avatar Working Mom says:

    I had the pleasure of visiting the sculpture garden in February with some girlfriends. The artwork was so beautiful and the setting so serene. Peaceful doesn't seen an adequate word. It's closer than one might think; I highly recommend visiting.

    Nearby is a humble little labyrinth that we all walked. I'd never experienced walking a labyrinth and was a little skeptical. I found it to be surprisingly calming and centering. A perfect complement to the garden.

  4. Avatar Adrienne jacoby says:

    About the WHERE: looks like it's on the right (headed north) a little before the Lake Shastina turn off. It's a little hard to pin point on Google Maps. Didn't know about it . . . tanx!!!

  5. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    I passed this information on to the Submarine Veteran's group that Jack belongs to. I didn't know anything about this spot, so we will definitely go and see it.

    Thanks for the info, Jim.

  6. Avatar Tammy D says:

    Make a day of it. It is a lovely drive and you will want to spend lots of time there. It is beautiful and moving. We have been several times and stop any time we are up that way.

  7. Avatar Sandy Tincher says:

    Been there several times, and everytime some of the sculptures bring tears to my eyes. It is a must see if you haven't been there before.

  8. Avatar sue c says:

    We've whizzed by there so many times. Next time we'll be sure to stop.

  9. Avatar pam says:

    We lived up Hwy 97 when the Garden was being built and met Dennis while he was endeavoring to make it happen. I think it was very healing for him….as it is for anyone who visits.

  10. Avatar Melissa says:

    Thanks for the idea, Jim. We just got back from the area and added the sculpture garden to our itinerary after reading this story. The Veterans' Sculpture Garden+ the Mt. Shasta Lavender Farm= A beautiful North State Day!

  11. Avatar Kathy says:

    This is a VERY special place…a fine tribute to all Veteran's in a truly sacred space.

    Both my husband and his father have their names on the wall.

    It is a "must see" a "must experience"