July in Tucson
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
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
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
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
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.