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.
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.
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.