I’ve heard it said that even though the greatest stories may require only a relatively few words in their telling, their meanings can echo through generations. Inside this issue, you’ll find a concise article that covers a beautiful watershape and landscape that is designed to tell just such a story.
In “An Edge of Honor,” landscape architects Johannes H. Wagner and Eugene R. Bolinger describe the creation of the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a place where the citizens of the Commonwealth have chosen to honor in perpetuity their service personnel who died in Vietnam (click here).
It’s a somber space, a place where a sprawling memorial is organized around a body of water. And in many ways, theirs is a simple story of how water can function as a metaphor – in this case for the Vietnamese landscape – and as a powerful aesthetic element lending a space a sublime sense of tranquility and beauty that leads to both physical reflection off the water and a deeper sort of psychological reflection most fitting to such a space.
Speaking from my own background and experience, it’s impossible for me to ignore the greater meaning of this article and the space it describes. My dad, Richard Herman Jr., served in Vietnam as a navigator in the Air Force’s C-130 transports and flew more than 200 combat missions. He was highly decorated for his efforts and, luckily for me and my family, came home after the war.
Although his service is a distinct point of pride within my family, there’s no question that our shared experiences during his duty in Southeast Asia transformed our lives forever.
I won’t go into the specifics other than to say that I can imagine, especially given the nature of current events, that those of you who’ve served in the military yourself or who’ve had a family member or a loved one in the service, may find resonance in this story that reaches beyond its immediate and stirring context.
On a decidedly different note, and speaking as one who spends a great deal of time communicating with people throughout the watershaping trades, it seems this industry is holding its own at a time when others are taking it on the chin.
Over and over, I hear reports from people who say they’re working harder than they ever have to keep up with the demand for well-designed, well-engineered, well-constructed watershapes. I’ve heard this from people in the pond and stream industry who are saying the same thing as pool and spa people and folks in the fountain and fine arts corners of the watershaping trades as well.
Frankly, that’s remarkably encouraging given current economic conditions, and I’m curious to know if what I’m hearing lines up with your own experience. If you have a moment and a thought you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail ([email protected]).
If the stories are as interesting as I suspect they might be, I might take the opportunity to share some of your responses in an upcoming column or two.