Today is Veterans Day. If you wonder how you might honor those who served our country, you could do worse than stroll though the All Veterans Plaza and read the 13 poetry stones.
Written on these stones are reflections — poems and epitaphs — about the nature of armed service. Here's an example:
"When you go home
"Tell them of us and say
"For your tomorrow"
"We gave our today" — John Maxwell Edmonds.
Every one of the 17 reflections is thought-provoking. They've been there since 2001, but I had almost forgotten them until I ran into Cynthia Haynes last week. She's the former city of Lodi employee who managed the building of the plaza. She told me how the contents of the poetry stones were chosen.
The Lodi News-Sentinel and the Record ran stories asking the community to submit an original poem or prayer celebrating veterans. They got 90 entries. Many were original, but many were quotes like the one above.
She reminded me the meeting to choose the best ones was held in the basement of the Sentinel.
"We took the name of the person who entered each poem off each entry, numbered them and taped them up on the walls ... . We had a jury of 11, consisting of veterans, Veterans Foundation officers, local clergy and one (person) at-large.
"We tried to have a balance of poems and prayers ... special consideration was given to local submissions over famous quotes," said Haynes.
It took about 4 hours to choose the 17 that ended up on the Plaza.
"Several of the jurors have passed on since then, including Rev. Dr. Wayne Kildall, Phil Jolly, Tony Galvan and Merle Warner.
"Just being part of creating the Lodi Area Veterans Plaza and working with the members of our Veteran's Foundation has been the high point of my life."
Cynthia now lives in Auburn and has been busy coordinating Auburn's veterans parade.
If anybody's interest in reviving Lodi's veterans parade, she'd love to help.
If your patriotic commitment isn't at that level, at least the poetry stones are worth 15 minutes. It's located between City Hall and Carnegie Forum on Pine Street.
Marty Weybret is publisher of the Lodi News-Sentinel.