Sunday, November 25, 2018

Nevada State Veterans Memorial

I received my (early out) military discharge from the U.S. Navy in December of 1971 after serving 3 years, 10 months and 22 days of what I had thought were the worst days of my life. It took the rest of my life to realize that what I had learned in those years is what had kept me alive all these years. As I slowly walked around the The Nevada State Veterans Memorial I found it hard to click my camera shutter at times as each of the 18 statues seemed to call up memories of the men that I had served with and my hometown friends that had served and died in the same war that I had served through. The names and faces of men that I thought I hated being around in those days came flooding back into my mind, - and I missed them.


Since May of 2016 the Nevada State Veterans Memorial, Las Vegas has honored the heroism and spirit of those who have served in the military of the United States of America.  The memorial is located on the grounds of the Grant Sawyer State Building at 555 East Washington Ave., just north of downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.



The Nevada State Veterans Memorial recognizes the service and sacrifice of Americans, especially Nevada veterans and their families who have or will answer the call of duty.  The two-acre memorial and park featuring 18 statues of soldiers, from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terror and civilians sits on the grounds of the Grant Sawyer State Building, a government office building located at 555 E. Washington Ave., Las Vegas, NV. 89101. The sculptor of the statues is Douwe Blumberg. His website is (http://www.douwestudios.com/news/here. The organizations responsible for Installation: American Shooters, Inc. and the Las Vegas Veterans Memorial Foundation..  The memorial serves to honor the heroism and spirit of those who have, and will, answer the call of duty.


Nevada State Veterans Memorial - on Facebook.
This memorial made me think of all the men and women I have known that served to keep America strong and free, and all of their sacrifices. It made me realize that simply serving in the military is a mark of bravery.



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My name is Keith Birmingham. I click as a photographer, journalist and writer. I busk as a musician, singer, and songwriter. I travel as a photojournalist and musician. My home base is Las Vegas, Nevada. I own Better World Media, a company dedicated to my life passions of music, photography, and travel. I invite you to subscribe to my blog at Better World Media


What Have We Become

You are never too old to learn what you should have known all your life. My most recent educational experience came when I made what was supposed to be a simple trip to photograph the Nevada State Veterans Memorial near downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.


I got my first good look at the homeless problem of Las Vegas as I exited the I-15 Freeway at “D Street”. That is where I found the first block of homeless camps, and I soon realized this was just the beginning. I desperately wanted to park my car, grab my camera, and start shooting. Out of respect for the people huddled in the morning cold around their sidewalk-homes I just kept driving slowly through the camp And, that was just the beginning. Because the visiting hours for the memorial are 08:00AM to 08:00PM I had time to cruise around the neighborhood. What I found was that every block in a neighborhood of at least a square mile had homeless camps that line most, if not all, of the length of the block. And, I knew that many of these people living on the streets are veterans of America’s military. I am at a loss for words to describe how I was feeling as I pulled into the Grant Sawyer State Office Building parking lot. But it was after I parked my car, grabbed my gear, and walked the 100 yards to the outside memorial that the emotions I was already feeling grabbed my heart in a chock hold that took me to my knees.

I received my (early out) military discharge from the U.S. Navy in December of 1971 after serving 3 years, 10 months and 22 days of what I had thought were the worst days of my life. It took the rest of my life to realize that what I had learned in those years is what had kept me alive all these years. As I  slowly walked around the Nevada State Veterans Memorial I found it hard to click my camera shutter at times as each of the 18 statues seemed to call up memories of the men that I had served with and my hometown friends that had served and died in the same war that I had served through. The names and faces of men that I thought I hated being around in those days came flooding back into my mind, - and I missed them.


Two hours later I exited the memorial to drive home. Most of what I have been thinking since that day is the homeless population of Las Vegas and the veterans that I served with. And, now I just keep trying to figure a way that I can do more with what I have learned than post a blog and photos about my experience.


And, I just keep wondering, “What have we become? How can we, as Americans, let our people live the way these people are living?” We owe it to our homeless vets and all the homeless Americans to end their pain and plight.


When you are homeless you sleep where you can.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Weekend in Laughlin, NV.

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When we left Las Vegas the weather was marvelous. It was around 10:30 AM on Saturday morning and morning traffic had long since died down. We stopped for our second cup of coffee before we left town, and an hour-and-a-half later we were in Laughlin. The first thing we noticed was that the wind was a little stiff down by the Colorado River. Other than that, it was a good day.


We checked into our room at the Tropicana Casino/Hotel, got settled in and  headed for a walk-around. The Tropicana sits between an In-and-Out Burger joint with a Terrible Herbst Convenience Store next to it. North of that there is an RV park. To the south of the Tropicana Casino/Hotel, there is a single building with about a dozen small businesses in it. Frank and I made our way across the street, turned back and took a few photographs of the Tropicana before continuing through the Colorado Belle Casino/Hotel, and down to the River Walk.


It was almost 01:00 PM. The casinos were busy inside, but traffic was light on the River Walk. Although there were only a few boats on the river the tour boats were packed and busy. Our goal for this walk was just to take the scenery in and get some photographs. I was happy for the lack of people that were out and about.

Three hours later we had walked north past the Edgewater Casino/Resort, Aquarius Casino Resort, and up to the Riverside Casino/Hotel just taking photographs of both sides of the river enjoying the scenery. But, by then it was beer-thirty, so we headed back to the Tropicana. It was 04:30 PM by the time we sat down to a beer in Tango’s Lounge.


After a 35-year sedentary career as a trucker my legs were already worn out, and I had work to do back in our room. Frank stayed behind at the bar for a couple of hours, but we were both in bed by 10:00 o’clock. Such is the life of old men. However, we were up with the sun on Saturday morning. By mid-morning, we were out cruising the big city of Laughlin. My main reason (excuse) for making this trip was to check out what kind of housing there was for senior citizens. We visited a couple of complexes in Laughlin before crossing the river and doing the same thing in Bullhead City. As it turns out there are a couple of nice places in both towns, but they were multi-storied apartment units, and I need to be on the ground floor. I will not rule out moving to the area, but Boulder City still may be my better choice. My worry about Boulder City is that it is too close to the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. I belong in a small town.

So, we finished our tour of the east side of the river with a ride up to Davis Dam where we walked around and took more photographs before heading back across the river and down to Harrah’s Casino/Resort on the south end of Casino Drive in Laughlin.

Harrah’s, to me, is the crown jewel of today’s Laughlin. Ultra-luxury is the only way to describe the whole property, from the beach-front on the Colorado River through the casino area to the bars, lounges, eateries, entertainment venues, and rooms. The next time I visit Laughlin I hope to stay at Harrah’s.


Harrah’s also turned out to be my money hole. This whole trip came to me by accident. The third person that lives in our house is Roberto, and he is currently having some health issues. So, he decided not to go on the trip. I was never planning to make the trip, but Frank asked me to go with him, saying he would pay all of my expenses. He just didn’t want to go alone. Anyway, I very seldom win on the slots, and don’t gamble at the tables (I stopped gambling on my second WesPac cruise back in ’71) I can play no more than 10 minutes on the slots and get bored, or if they are noisy they drive me crazy. Anyway, I gave Frank a $1 to play one spin for me because he gets lucky on the machines sometimes. One spin on a $1 slot and he won me $160. I gave him half of the pot to pay for my share of the trip. It made me feel better about taking the trip, and I think Frank appreciated the gesture too.

Our final stop was the Golden Nugget. There had been a car show there earlier in the day. A few of the contestants were still parked in the front row of the parking lot. It was now Sunday evening, and the tourists were heading home. It had been a busy day for us. We grabbed a meal at Golden and I headed for our motel room while Frank stopped at Tango’s Lounge to watch some football. We were back home in Las Vegas by 09:30 Monday morning.

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Friday, November 2, 2018

Seeking Sponsors

Are sponsorships for events only? I hope not. I have an idea that I am working on to get sponsors for my work in #music, #photography, and #travel. I'm hoping this will give the backing I need to travel across northern American hemisphere, or at least across the USA.



Busking Pitch
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Contacting major manufacturers of camera and music equipment in exchange for reviews of their products and the use of my photos on projects they ask me to work on will be one way in which I will seek sponsorship. I also plan to contact leading travel-related businesses. I will be asking them for funds to support my needs in return for promotional services of their companies. And, I will be writing travel and how-to articles that I hope they can use. I am also trying to build a freelance relationship with news agencies for a specific photography purpose of my travels.

With or without sponsorship I do plan to begin my travels in the not-to-distant future. Starting my "off computer" search for a van for my travels will start today.