SYRACUSE -- Larry Kerr likes to work in his garden for relaxation. His green thumb is apparent -- his beautifully manicured yard is framed by flower beds where an assortment of colorful flowers and shrubbery greet passersby. Rising out of that peaceful scene is a flagpole with an old bed frame at its base, and on another pole -- a bomb.
The display, which Kerr calls "Veterans Parkway," is a tribute to Vietnam veterans and a reminder to himself and others of the sacrifice veterans of that war made for their nation, he explained.
Kerr, a veteran of the Vietnam War, said he attended weapons school at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver and served in Vietnam for more than two years. He spent his career with the military working as a munitions specialist at various locales before retiring in 1985 and moving with his wife of 43 years, Churee, to Syracuse. During his travels, he picked up the old shell casing, which he said never contained any explosives.
After his children grew up and left home, Kerr was trying to decide what to do with their old basketball standard when he thought of the old casing. He decided to have it powder-coated the original olive green with a red end and a bright yellow stripe encircling its tip. He then mounted it to the basketball pole, noting his children "didn't mind at all" that their hoop had been replaced by a bomb. A plaque on the pole, titled "Everyone Remembers," pays tribute to members of the military who were prisoners of war or missing in action.
Kerr was so pleased with the result that he decided to have his flagpole powder-coated red, white and blue, and the bed frame painted in the colors of the South Vietnam flag -- yellow with three red stripes.
While the younger generations may not understand the entire significance of the memorial, Kerr said, people seem to appreciate it. Every once in a while, other veterans will drive by and let him know they appreciate it as well.
"They will toot their horns in recognition and acknowledgment," Kerr said.
Located on a side street next to the city cemetery, Kerr's home is at 1325 S. 1025 West, Syracuse.