In early September 2012 I stayed in Sacramento, California for a couple of days mainly to attend the California Capital Air Show. While there I took some time to do a bit of sight-seeing, especially around the impressive State Capitol building. The Capitol building is not only the functioning state government legislature and home off the office of the Governor; it is also a functioning museum displaying how the government offices once looked. The building was completed in 1874 after 14 years of construction, but was in partial use by the Government from 1869.
Within the Capitol Building museum are displays on World War One history that are specific to California. One such display is the Congressional Medal of Honour (the highest American military honour) awarded to Californian Colonel Nelson M. Holderman (1885-1953) for extreme acts of heroism fighting on the Western Front between October 2nd to 8th, 1918 when he was an army Captain leading Company K, 307th Infantry Regiment of the so called “Lost Battalion” who were isolated and completely surrounded by German troops following an American advance. During this fighting he was wounded on multiple occasions (on the 4th, 5th and 7th of October) yet continued to fight and inspire his men, hold their position under intense German attacks and even led a counterattack against them! Once reinforcements arrived he lead his men to a rear area before allowing medics to treat his wounds. One tough soldier! For his actions during this battle he not only received the Congressional medal but also he Californian Medal for Valour.
After the war Holderman joined the California National Guard and was promoted to Colonel. His career ended the day he died in the Governor appointed role as Commandant of a soldiers home. His eleven medals in total make him one of the most highly decorated American soldiers of World War One.
In the park and gardens surrounding the Capitol building is an excellent Vietnam War memorial (one of the best I have seen). The memorial is made up of different panels and statues to represent the various stages of American involvement in the struggle of that war.
There are numerous stately buildings around Sacramento from public buildings to homes. The former Governor’s mansion (built in 1877 and used to house the Governors from 1903-1967. Today there is no official residence and the former mansion is a State Historic Park) and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament are two such places.
The International Hostel I stayed in at Sacramento was quite impressive too. A former mansion of a wealthy businessman (Llewellyn “Lew” Williams) it was completed in 1885. Since those days the home has fulfilled a variety of purposes from a house to a funeral home (1904-1967), from then until it was taken over by Hostelling International in 1988 it served as a “Gentlemans Club” of some sort and as a reception hall. The furniture inside is period piece and it really has a totally different decor to your standard hostel. Quite a cool place to stay.
The California Capital Air Show was fantastic with great displays by historic warbirds, aerobatic and modern military aircraft. I will write more on the show in my aviation blog: Aces Flying High.