In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park. The area that contained the missing last 19 granite timepieces. [Photo: David Kramer, 11/10/20]

UPDATE: SEE Two of the missing 19 timepieces from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are found.

The Timeline at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester in Highland Park is a unique historical repository. The four foot long pieces begin at 300 B.C. — depicting the first migrations from China to what is now Vietnam —  and is meant to end with the bombings of the World Trade Centers on September 11th, 2001.

Photo of the last timepiece. The piece itself has been missing since 2006. [Provided by Barry Culhane]

In last few years, we’ve looked closely at the Timeline within the contexts of the rise and fall of Imperial Japan, the rise and fall of General Douglass MacArthur, the Eisenhower presidency and nuclear armageddon , the Cambodian and Laotian civil warssports in the 1960’s, the civil rights movement, and the women’s rights movement. (SEE ALL ARTICLES AT END)  

A few weeks ago, I finally had the chance to meet the creator of the Timeline, Barry Culhane. Although Barry now uses a motorized wheel chair, he was eager to meet at the Timeline, his decades long labor of love.

Dream realized Barry Culhane, the driving force behind the new Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park South, leans on a bollard honoring his third cousin Gerald Culhane. The memorial is lined with 280 of these markers honoring the area’s dead and missing. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 9/6/96

(left) Barry Culhane at the VVM Veterans Garden, Photo: David Kramer 11/09/20; (right) Barry Culhane, who led the effort to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park, calls the memorial “the hardest thing I have done and one of the most rewarding.” Officials will proclaim Friday “Barry Culhane Day” and events will mark the 10-year anniversary of the memorial’s dedication. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 9/07/06

As we toured the Memorial, Barry pointed to features of the Walk I didn’t know, describing how the area was carefully landscaped to represent the undulating hills of Vietnam. We spoke with about six people, some of whom were experiencing the Timeline for the first time. They were thrilled to meet the its creator, thanked Barry for his work and told their own stories of relatives who served in Vietnam.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park [Photos: David Kramer, 11/20/20 and 11/10/20]

Barry also cleared up one mystery. When I’ve walked the Timeline, I’ve wondered why the trail ends abruptly in March 1973 although many important events in the Indochinese conflicts occurred after 1973.

(left) Currently, the final piece on the Timeline; (right) Part of the area that contained the missing last 19 granite timepieces. [Photos: David Kramer, 11/18/20 and 11/10/20]

In 2006, after Barry had left the Board of the Greater Rochester Vietnam Veterans Memorial Corporation, the last 19 timepieces were removed ostensibly for cleaning and repair. However, the pieces were never returned. Barry has yet to discover where the pieces are or if they still exist.

The prints on bench inscribed with the one of the Memorial mottos: To Commemorate, To Heal, and To Educate [Photo: David Kramer, 12/05/20]

Recently, Barry is renewing his efforts to find the pieces. At the Memorial, Barry gave me prints on the missing pieces that I posted (SEE BELOW) so current visitors can imagine the Timeline in its finished form. We are also asking the community for any information on the missing 19 pieces.

If you have any information or ideas as to how we can locate the pieces, email David Kramer at [email protected] or leave a comment in the comment section at the end of the article.

During our walk, Barry explained his sense of urgency. Recently, Barry has suffered some health setbacks. His fervent desire is to see the Timeline restored, leaving it intact for future generations to be educated and moved.

As we talked, it was clear that Barry is not motivated by vanity or ego. Barry’s primary concern is that the memory of veterans who served and all those who suffered be preserved. Barry talked about the efforts by so many to build the timeline, bollards, gardens, sculptures and monuments. The empty spots where stood the pieces feels like a hole in the mosaic of the Memorial. Barry wants to make the Memorial whole again.

For more information, see Save the Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial: A Walk Through Time: 300 B.C – 2001 by Barry Culhane

The Timeline series 

You’re fired!

The Eisenhower presidency (and nuclear armageddon) at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park

75 years ago when Imperial Japan surrendered and the Timeline at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Highland Park

Talker’s foreign correspondent in Cambodia and the plaques in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Highland Park.

The Communist Party of China at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park

Sports and the ’60’s at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park

Remembering April 4th, 1968 and the Civil Rights Movement at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park

Women (not many) at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Timeline in Highland Park

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester: A Meditation on the Cost of War

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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