My husband Ray and I have seen many memorials to war, but this one which we visited in May 2022 stands out as the most unique and interesting. It captures the various human aspects of war, each with a wire-like sculpture to demonstrate some aspect.
It is found in a beautiful landscape setting on the slopes of Mt. Shasta, along Highway 97, thirteen miles from Weed, California. Not well known, but not hidden either it is contained in the Goosenest Ranger District of Klamath National Forest.
The garden was created in 1988 by a group of veterans (and founder Ric De Lugo) and is maintained by the Kiwanis Club of Weed and Lake Shasta under an agreement with the USDA Forest Service. The entire garden is 136 acres, most of them planted by veterans and other volunteers and appears as a very natural pine setting.
Every part of the property is meant for quiet reflection and meditation with benches and tables abounding. One drives in on a gravel one-way road, transitioning from the hecticness of the highway.
There are three major elements, presented in the order in which they are found on the property:
1) Set of walls including an honor roll (with 24 columns of names): sponsor wall with the bronze plaque relief of Ace Alan Cozzello. Added in 1994 is a sculpture high is the air of Hot LZ, a helicopter that evacuated people from Viet Nam.
2) A labyrinth made of different colored bricks. Ray provides a sense of scale.
3) The set of sculptures by Dennis Smith. People leave their own mementos like coins and stones and flowers. There are a few individual grave plots.
While primarily meant as a memorial to the Viet Nam war, there is also a Korean War Veterans Monument. The statues represent various elements of the war experience.
- In the center is the largest, the “Why Group” consisting of a central obelisk with three modern dancers.
- The Nurses (carrying a patient on a stretcher)
- All Wounded Warriors
- POW MIA
- Those Left Behind
- Coming Home
- The Greatest Generation (a likeness of the Iwo Jima Memorial)
- Flute Player and three dancers