The Veteran’s Memorial National Shrine - it’s peaceful. There’s a gravel parking area, bordered by sawed-off telephone poles driven into the ground. A large, three-sided pole barn is over on one edge of the property. You can see a couple of picnic tables nearby. And then, your eye is caught by the vast expanse of flat green grass and the memorials. Towards the back of the property are a variety of military-themed memorials. Some of them are simple, like the brick flag pole pedestal with a modest metal plaque stating the American Legion post that put it up. A different memorial is also plain, with two full-sized anchors at the foot of a flagpole. Another spot is elaborate with heavy benches, cement and brick walks and a great stone slab, etched with the image of a soldier in full Korean winter gear. American flags abound at this park, but flags from the armed services and from other organizations are also present.
Although this memorial shrine area is on O’day road and is quite close to busy traffic, you wouldn’t be able to guess that from just wandering around the grounds. It’s so peaceful and quiet, you feel like you’re out in the country. Kids can run in the green space without any fear of getting too close to the road. With the short-cropped lawn, mosquitos should be at a minimum. Just last summer a playground set was installed on the shrine’s grounds by a local Boy Scout and his troop. Located near the picnic area, it’s the perfect way to let kids swing and slide until the food is ready.
Inside the picnic barn, towards the back, is a large boxcar. Although it’s fairly unassuming and gray now, this is a memento from France, part of a post-WWII gift to say ‘thank-you’ to the United States for aid that was sent to war-torn Europe in 1947. Stop for a moment to read the information on the door of the boxcar, then look up more online. It’s truly a fascinating story, and you can actually touch a piece of history right here at the Veteran’s Memorial National Shrine.
If you’re visiting the Shrine on the weekend, there is a small museum filled with military mementos. It’s attached to the low, single-story house that fronts the property. Inside the museum you’ll find uniforms, medals, trunks, and other conflict memorabilia that span the twentieth and twenty-first century of American military history.
The Veteran’s Memorial National Shrine is an interesting mix of picnic space, memory grounds and museum material. If you want a good place with lots of people room, the picnic grounds are great. If you want something to keep the kids happy, bring along a ball and some hula-hoops – the swing set will be a hit, too. And if you want something for folks to think about, then check out the museum. While the Shrine grounds are open all summer, you might want to call ahead to reserve the picnic space. Catching one of the custodians on the phone is a little tricky, so your best bet is to make the call on the weekend, near noon.
Click here for the address and contact information for the Shrine.