Welcome to Eagle Arts! 

Just as we step into Christmas and the New Year, the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park proudly presents our first issue of "Eagle Arts". Eagle Arts was inspired by our growing arts crowd and our constantly growing arts program. Our volunteer Arts Director, Tony LoBue, has worked hard to help bring in some wonderful community partners immersed in the arts. 

We believe there is healing power in the arts, and many of our nation's veterans are in need of a great healing. The struggle of war is not foreign to me nor to many of my staffers, board members and of course patrons. The performing arts not only provides opportunities for veterans to be exposed to something different, but can act as a vehicle to expressing their own experiences. 

We hope this newsletter is informative and inspirational as well as a place that some of our local veterans can express themselves! Each month we hope to feature new poets, guest writers and so much more. 

This holiday season we'd like to say "Thank You" to all our members, patrons and most importantly, our veterans. Each year we seek to expand our outreach into our community and we believe the arts has helped us greatly in this regard. We hope you enjoy what "Eagle Arts" has to offer! Read on to see the ways you can get involved and be a part!

This Holiday Season we hope everyone gets time to spend with their family and loved ones. For those who cannot be home this season, our thoughts are with you. Season's Greetings from all of us, here, at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park. 

Captain Sheldon Margolis 
USN (Retired) 
President and CEO

The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park Arts 
  • Dec. 26 - Arts for All: Open Forum 
  • Dec. 30 - Jazz and Juice
This Month
Welcome to Eagle Arts! Arts Director, "Tony the Vet" shares welcoming remarks
Welcome to our inaugural Eagle ARTS Newsletter!
  • I am dedicated to providing quality arts and culture  activities, events, programs and workshops to change  our old nickname from "Balboa Park's Best Kept  Secret" to "Balboa Park's Best Known Arts Venue for  Veterans."
    I absolutely believe we are all "born artists" by virtue of  our human DNA.
    I absolutely believe the arts enhance and change lives  through their power to entertain, educate and heal.  I absolutely believe no other human activity can equal
    the therapeutic value of arts engagement with head,  heart and hands in present time.  I absolutely believe we can use the arts for intervention  and prevention of veteran suicide and reduce the
    current epidemic of more than 20 daily veteran suicides  closer to zero.
    So, I am here to inform, invite, incite and involve you to  help me provide more quality arts and culture for our  veterans and allies at The Veterans Museum at Balboa  Park.
      Be a donor!
  • Be a sponsor!
    Be a volunteer!

    We hope you enjoy our Eagle ARTS Newsletter  where you'll find my monthly Arts Director Calendar.  We also encourage you to share our newsletters with family and friends who you think would benefit! 

  • VMBP and Poet Laureate host Musa Kaleem and the Vibrational Tones for 2nd Jazz and Juice 
    Dec. 30  

      We are so proud to host our second "Jazz and Juice" show on Dec. 30 at 7 PM. The event will feature heartfelt, soul poetry by museum Poet Laureate, Alyce Cooper Smith and cool Jazz by Musa Kaleem and the Vibrational Tones. This is the second time the museum has hosted Jazz and Juice, which gets it's name from the incredible Jazz talent of Musa Kaleem and his bandmates and each attendee gets a free organic juice drink! 

    We will also offer good food and a lot of good company! We encourage patrons who have an affinity for poetry or jazz to attend this event. Food will be served, all you can eat for a nominal fee! 

    Support local poets! Grab a copy of "The Gumbo Pot Poems", written by Poet Laureate, Alyce Smith Cooper and fellow women poets.
    Known in literary circles as The Golden Brown Fairy Godmother, we are excited to have Cooper share her wisdom through prose to the accompaniment of some very talented musicians. You won't want to miss this event! To hear more from The Golden Brown Fairy Godmother, see our Poet's Corner where we'll feature her recent KPBS interview with Marissa Cabrera of Midday Edition. You can also grab a copy of Cooper's book, "The Gumbo Pot Poems", a yummy collection of soulfood recipes and honest poetry written by Cooper and fellow women poets, Jaime Jones and Judy Sundayo. 
    Swing dance amidst military memorabilia from that era with Swing Dancing San Diego!   

    Did you know that the museum offers swing dancing lessons each week? Well, we sure do! Join Joel Plys to learn basics, sharpen your already good skills or get ready for a performance!

      Swing Dancing San Diego offers the best classes with their "dance more, talk less" approach. They specialize in all the dances from the Swing Era (1920s-1950s) including Charleston, Lindy Hop, Balboa, Blues, Jazz, Collegiate Shag, and Jitterbug. Get fit, have fun, and make friends by joining in!
    Regular classes are on Mondays (all levels at 7:30 & 9:30) & Tuesdays (7:00 all level Jazz, 8:00 Intermediate partner dancing) as well as a lesson/dance on the 2nd Fridays each month. Best to check website to confirm:  www.SwingDancingSanDiego.com  
    Dates for January:
    Mondays - 8, 15, 22, 29
    Tuesdays - 9, 16, 22, 30
    Friday dance - 12

    Director's Corner: Learn the vision behind December's "A Piece of My Heart" and why honoring our Vietnam Veterans is so important
    Vietnam Veteran and museum staffer, Paul Fuscoe, in the last scene of "A Piece of My Heart" 
    This month, The American History Theater presented their largest production to date, the Vietnam War classic, "A Piece of My Heart". The production is in partnership with The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, who AHT also partnered with to gain a California Arts Council grant for project funding.  The play chronicles the lives of six women who travel to the Vietnam War to serve, and the emotional and political turmoil they return to.  This production has been one of one of importance to AHT founder and president, Hal Berry, who has dreamed
    of endeavoring this play since he started American History Theater, almost four years ago.

      "When I created The American History Theater in San Diego, I was determined to find a home for this project (A Piece of My Heart)'" said Berry. "I found that home with the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park. As a veteran, I believe it is our duty to assist veteran organizations and to reach out to that community."
    In partnership with the VMBP, AHT was able to apply for and secure a grant to fully fund the production, the first grant the organization had applied for.
     "Through the su p port of Sheldon Margolis, the president of the Vet erans Muse um, we spent a year in planning and applying for a grant from the California Council of the Arts," said Berry. "We received a major grant to produce "A Piece of My Heart."
    With funding and perfect location secured, Berry and AHT were ready to move forward on what had been his dream for so long. A Navy corpsman during the Vietnam era, Berry served those injured in Vietnam when they returned to the sta tes. Even without going to the sweaty jungles of Vietnam, Hal still felt the war was right on his doorstep.

    Berry recounts a Vietnam service member who returned to his burn unit stateside, burned over 75% of his body who did not survive. His childhood playmate,
    Jay Cook, with whom he used to play games of war, was killed only three weeks into his deployment by a sniper.
    The story of how Vietnam Veterans were treated when they retur
    ned home is one that haunts many Vietnam Veterans. As a person who had served during the Vi
    etnam era, Berry learned to keep his service to himself, given public opinion. He not  only saw the mistreatment of Vietnam Vets as they came home, many of whom were becoming angry as they realized they were fighting a war that could not be won, nor should have ever started. Many of the play's scenes hit home for Berry, but one scene in particular crystallizes why the angst of war is so hard to bear, especially for Vietnam Veterans.

    "The part that I wait for each evening is when the character Martha, in a group therapy session, has something to say," said Berry. "Looking directly into the audience, her passion flows----'You people! Who sent me over there, made me do all those terrible things.... You are not accountable and you never will be accountable. You will never be reckoned with in this world."

    For Berry, the play is a commitment to our military men and women. But there is also something deeply personal for Berry in directing the play.
    "(Each night) I will sit in the back and be drawn into that era in which I lived," said Berry.  " I will relive the stories told to me by so many who served in country. Each night I remember Jay and all of the men and women I have taught who fought in that war."
    Berry dedicates this play to Jay Cook, to all who served in the Vietnam my parents Helen and Henry Berry and to Amber, his dear friend.
    For more information on The American History Theater, go to www.americanhistorytheater.org 
    Stage nurses of Vietnam meet the real nurses of Vietnam in Concluding Talkback for "A Piece of My Heart"


    Museum staffer and Vietnam vet, Paul, gives Army Vietnam nurse, Gina, an agent orange bracelet to signify she was exposed
    The last showing of "A Piece of My Heart" included a special treat. The talented cast of the show and director joined real Vietnam nurses on the stage to share their experiences. The cast expressed first and foremost, their respect for the true-to-life nurses who served during the Vietnam war. The play's depiction of life within a combat hospital was not a pretty picture, realistically depicting the carnage and despair medical personnel encountered daily. 

    "All that stuff really happened," said former Navy nurse, Elaine Dlouhy, who served on year in Vietnam, like most other military nurses. 

    Gina, (Army Nurse, grey sweater), shared her experiences as a nurse in a Vietnam surgical unit. Years later she would begin to fall ill, eventually contracting cancer. It was not until many years later she was told she had been exposed to Agent Orange. 

    Museum staffer and Vietnam veteran, Paul Fuscoe, told his own story and what it meant to him to be a part of this play. "There's not a day goes by that I don't think about those lost during that war," said Fuscoe. 

    Cast members were also thankful to learn so much about the service of women in the Vietnam war and eager to respectfully portray the stories of these six women, giving them the recognition they did not receive during their time in service. 
    " It was especially shocking to me that initially, these women were not even acknowledged for  their service," said actor, Kai Lin. 

    Later it was discovered there was no official record of how many women served in Vietnam. Although not allowed in "combat roles" they still faced horrorific details of the war. Many women were told they would be in safe areas, only to find out that the war was everywhere. 

    "It was both surprising and enlightening to see that many of the women who went to Vietnam volunteered to go there but had absolutely no true idea of what they were getting into or even anything about the country," said Carla Ba Nu, who plays hard-nosed Warrant Officer "Steelie". 

    This was not the first time the cast had spent time with Vietnam nurses. As part of their initiation onto the cast, all members were subjected to a "Boot Camp" where they learned aobut military life, how to march and spoke with actual combat nurses to help them flesh their roles. 

    "We were just so well-prepared for this play," said Lydia Lea Real, who played Navy nurse, Martha. "We had an easier time getting into the roles because we had veterans all around us to help us guide us." 

    When asked what the cast hoped to convey to Vietnam veterans like Gina and Elaine, each say the same thing. They all hoped to convey their women characters with honesty, authenticity and to the point where those who have experienced these things feel as though they were best represented. 

    For those who attended, all said the same thing, "These guys nailed it."
    Poet's Corner

    Welcome to Eagle Arts, Poet's Corner! This section is where we'd like to spotlight some of our local veteran poets! Would you like to see your work in our new Eagle Arts? We encourage poetry written by veterans or about veterans and military life. We look forward to becoming a stage for some of our community's secret poets! 

    This month we are pleased to debut the Poet's Corner with a poem written about our own Poet Laureate, Alyce Smith Cooper. This poem was written as she attended another museum event, "Music Night at the Museum". Inspired by the music, she wrote this holiday poem. To learn more about Cooper and her talents listen to her KPBS interview on Midday Edition with Marissa Cabrera, below this poem. We hope you enjoy this first, "Poet's Corner".
    "Red Rabbit"
    By Alyce Cooper Smith 

    Red Rabbit under Red White & Blue
    Holidays are on us the darkened days Fast aplroach temperatures request more layers against unfamiliar chilling
    Red rabbit where will you find shelter
    You don't fit the prototype for rabbits 
    I've read about or fantasized
    Maybe you are a holiday edition  to be found on sale racks on December 26th
    Perhaps you escaped from 
    A child's coloring book left over from the Springtime 
    I'm going to call you my THANKSGIVING RABBIT
    MY FANTASY IS that you will lead the Macy's Parade on Thanksgiving 
    Riding a float covered in red white and blue bunting 
    The stars 50 children of different colors and ethnic origins all singing love songs to America the only land they know and that they are willing to give their talents to make an ever greater leader than it has ever been 
    The parade  never ends 
    The Red Rabbit is my THANKSGIVING 
    For to all 50 Stars I believe  create a new way to heavenly heights leading to peace on earth.

    @Alyce Smith Cooper
    Veterans Museum at Balboa Park
    We hope you'll take a moment to listen to Cooper's recent interiview on KPBS' Midday Edition. Hear her thoughts on service to the nation and what she hopes to bring to the museum as it's Poet Laureate. 


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