The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress
MAY/JUNE 2006
FEATURE
 
 

July in Tucson
Desert Delight

 

BY DENNIS ST. GERMAINE, PRESIDENT VVA CHAPTER 106

Welcome Home. And welcome to Tucson from VVA Chapter 106. We are proud that VVA has chosen our home once again as the location for the National Leadership Conference. 

I am writing this in March, looking out my den window past the palm tree at the desert. It is cool, sunny, and looks to be a perfect day. In fact, three out of our four seasons are mild and subtle when compared to the rest of the United States.

However, those three subtle seasons are not what you’ll experience during the conference. July is not a subtle month. It is hot outside. If Tucson is lucky, we will be inconvenienced, and it will rain a lot, for July is also when the yearly monsoons begin—if they do begin.

July is also when two large groups of people simply vanish from the community. Students from the University of Arizona—40,000 strong during the school year—and our winter visitors from the northern climes. Traffic is easier to deal with, and when the evening cools after sundown, you can visit superb restaurants and entertainment venues throughout our community.

Plan outdoor activities for early morning to avoid the heat. It is a time when golfers tee off and hikers hit the trail. If you do participate in outdoor activities while you are here, be sure to carry plenty of water, apply sun screen, and wear a hat. Don’t hike alone, and watch for snakes—even on the golf course.

Speaking of golf, bring your clubs and participate in the tournament sponsored by the Arizona State Council to benefit the Mike Nash Scholarship Program. It will take place on Tuesday, July 11.

For those who want a little casino action, both the Tohono O’Odham and Pasqua Yaqui tribes have full casinos. They are across Tucson from the Hilton El Conquistador, but it’s not a bad drive by car.

There are several sites of interest for veterans in Tucson, including the Pima Air Museum, one of the finest collections of vintage and significant American aircraft in the country. Once again, it is a drive across the city, but worth the trip.

I am proud to say that Southern Arizona honors its veterans. A place that I consider sacred exists right in the center of the University of Arizona. The UA Veterans Memorial Student Union is dedicated to deceased veterans of all wars, but especially those entombed in the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The bell that rings on the quarter hour at the UA is the Arizona’s bell, luckily saved from a Naval salvage yard by a UA alumn. There is a display of USS Arizona memorabilia, as well as brass plaques with the names of war dead from all the wars of the 20th century.

Another place set aside to honor veterans is Veterans’ Memorial Interchange, an overpass that routes city traffic over an industrial area and the railroad. The sides of the bridge are brightly decorated with Stars and Stripes.

The UA also boasts several museums: The UA Museum of Art, the Center for Creative Photography, and the Arizona State Museum, with its phenomenal collections devoted to Southwest archeology.

If you have the time and transportation, a visit to Fort Huachuca, about 90 miles south of Tucson, is worth the ride. Fort Huachuca has four museums chronicling U.S. Army activity in these parts from the Buffalo Soldiers—black soldiers who fought the Apaches—through World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Some of the buildings still in use date from the Buffalo Soldier era. 

If it rains while you are here, enjoy it. Walk outside afterwards and breathe deeply. The smell of the desert after a rain is simply the best.

   

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