World War II veterans gathered this week at the American Legion Post 397 in Monterey Park where they were thanked for their service by Congresswoman Judy Chu and other members of the community.
The event, hosted by the post and the Lucille and Edward R. Roybal Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the late Los Angeles Congressman Edward R. Roybal, also a WWII veteran, included the telling the stories of some of the veterans in attendance.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Rick Aguirre served as the Master of Ceremonies and thanked the crowd of veterans for preserving the country’s freedom.
“The recognition of the sacrifice that these WWII men and women made must be acknowledged while they’re still alive and with us, and for the future,” Aguirre told EGP.
Chu presented certificates to the post and foundation and told the crowd she was happy the ceremony took place in her district.
“The fact that you have this in Monterey Park is an honor,” Chu told the crowd. “I truly appreciate everything you’ve done for our country.”
Roybal’s son, Edward R. Roybal, Jr., also spoke at the event that he said was the center for East Los Angeles veterans.
“Its long overdue that we celebrate these veterans from WWII,” Roybal told EGP. “They’re all in their late 80s or 90s so its one of the last opportunities to bring together this extraordinary collection of vets.”
Anne Vargas was one of the veterans honored at the ceremony. She was recognized for being one of the few women who served in the war.
“Its special just being a veteran,” Vargas told EGP. “But it was a honor to be recognized.”
Armando Lopez told EGP that as a veteran it was very emotional for him to hear the stories, but he feels people who do not take time to attend these types of events are missing out on history.
Bill Sanchez spoke about his experience as a prisoner of war. He told EGP that he was happy with the event but hopes the community acknowledges the sacrifices made by veterans.
“If [they] have time, they should visit a military cemetery and they will see that, that freedom is not free,” said Sanchez.
While Roybal said he was glad the event acknowledged the few men and woman left from WWII, he hopes future events include veterans from other eras.
“We have veterans coming home from this war and I think that in many cases they don’t come home to the kind of reception that WWII vets got when they returned,” Roybal told EGP.
Aguirre ended the ceremony by telling the crowd that although he highlighted some of the stories of the WWII veterans, there are many more experiences that should be shared.
“Recognizing Latinos who served in WWII allows us to know that Latinos served in every major battle in WW2II and were highly decorated,” Aguirre said.