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SMITH: Vietnamese pitch in for the plaque

It's heartening, isn't it, the way veterans and people grateful to them have responded to the dismaying theft of a park plaque that honored the 15 Petaluma servicemen killed in Vietnam.

Kimchi Moyer, who was 7 when her family fled South Vietnam, is among those rallying to correct the outrage.

“Perhaps there could be something even better, and a little bigger,” said Moyer, who chairs the Sonoma Vietnamese Association.

She has volunteered the association's assistance in the process to determine what should replace the bronze plaque stolen from downtown Petaluma's Walnut Park, and to help pay for it.

The response by the organization of local Vietnamese Americans is gratifying to Petaluma's Joe Noriel, and not surprising.

He presides over the association that runs the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum, which two years ago drew a large and emotional response to the special exhibit, “The Vietnam Experience: A Soldier's Story.”

Something wondrous happened when members of the Sonoma Vietnamese Association seized that exhibit as an opportunity to meet Vietnam vets and express their gratitude to them and all the Americans who died in that war.

“It was amazing, the healing that took place and the friendships that were made,” Noriel said.

Kimchi Moyer said she and others in the Vietnamese Association see the community response to the theft of Petaluma plaque as another opportunity to thank those who fought defending their freedom.

“This gives us another chance to join together,” she said.

NAUGHTY OR NOT: I suppose we could have wrapped Monday's PD in plain, brown wrappers.

But at least that photo of women on ladders placing knit hats on the heads of large, stone figures appeared on the Empire Page and not right out on Page 1.

I'm just having a little fun. Those mushroom-capped stone grandfathers, or dol-hareubangs from Santa Rosa's South Korean sister city of Jeju, are adorable.

But you shouldn't feel ashamed if you perceive in their shape something mildly erotic. The carved pedestals of volcanic rock, indigenous to Jeju and popular throughout the city and its island, have long been regarded as fertility omens.

The island of Jeju is a hot spot for honeymooners and oftentimes new couples will reach up to a dol-hareubang and touch its nose, hoping the act will increase the chance of them giving birth to a baby boy.

Should you be seen touching the nose of one of the stone grandfathers there in Rae Park, across Sonoma Avenue from City Hall, there's no telling what people will think.

AS COLD AS IT IS in Santa Rosa, the days are even chillier in Jeju, where one year ago a contingent of locals presented a gift of the first Snoopy statue in Korea.

Has anyone on that side of the trans-Pacific sisterhood knitted a cap for Snoopy?

We'll wait to hear.

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