East L.A. Veterans Memorial Restored

The site was vandalized last year.

By EGP Staff Report

Thieves with crowbars are going to break a sweat, and may even break their backs, if they try to steal newly installed bronze plaques at the All Wars Memorial located on a traffic island at the intersection of Lorena, Indiana and Cesar E. Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights.

Sometime between October and November 2012, three of the memorial’s bronze plaques were stolen and a fourth plaque was damaged by vandals  who police believe may have wanted to sell them for scrap metal, or taken by collectors of this type of memorabilia.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Monumento a los Veteranos México-Americanos Restaurado en el Este de Los Ángeles

The four plaques have now been replaced or restored, thanks to Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez presents replacement plaque for one vandalized veterans memorial. Police believe thieves may have stolen them for the value of the metal. (Photo courtesy of the office of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez)

Upon learning that the memorial had been vandalized just before Veterans Day 2012, Speaker Pérez pledged to see to it that the stolen plaques were replaced. He made good on the commitment on March 1 during a ceremony marking the monument’s restoration. Additional measures were taken to secure the plaques and protect them from precious metal thieves, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4696 Commander Tony Zapata told EGP.

“Through the Civil War, two World Wars, and up to our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Latinos have proudly donned the uniform of the United States Military to safeguard our freedoms and defend our way of life,” said Pérez in a written statement. “This monument speaks to their valor and their dedication; to their willingness to give what Abraham Lincoln called their ‘last full measure of devotion…that a nation might live.’”

Pérez represents the 53rd Assembly District, including the section of Boyle Heights where the memorial is located. The Cinco Puntos intersection is located just within his district’s eastern border on North Indiana Street.

The All Wars Memorial in Boyle Heights was originally constructed in 1947 to honor Mexican Americas who served in the US armed forces. Eugene A. Obregon American Legion Post 804 hold ceremonies at the location to honor veterans, like the Annual Memorial Day Observance and 24-Hour Patriotic Vigil, as well as Veterans Day ceremonies.

Zapata told EGP that he and the other veteran members of American Legion Post 804 are grateful Perez has restored the site that means so much to them and to all veterans.

“I want to thank Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez for his involvement in procuring and security the plaques to put them back up again,” said Zapata, who also thanked everyone for attending the installation ceremony.

Pérez secured the funds to pay for the new plaques to replace the three stolen and for the repair of the plaque that was damaged, according to Zapata.  He said several measures have been taken to keep thieves from stealing them again, including using screws twice the length as the previous ones to affix them to the monument and cementing in the outer edges of the plaques.

Zapata said he is planning to talk to the LAPD detective on the still unsolved case to discuss additional security measures, such as installing surveillance cameras.

Last week’s ceremony however was not without controversy.

At one point during the festivities, Eddie Morin, the son of Raul Morin, a highly decorated World War II veteran and author who passed away in 1967, rushed the podium, but was held back and not allowed to speak, according to Zapata.

Related story: Stolen Veterans Memorial Plaques Raise Old Controversy

Related story: Mexican American Veterans’ Memorial In East L.A. Vandalized

Morin has long disputed referring to the site as the  “All Wars Memorial.” He says that, historically, the memorial was only meant to honor World War II veterans like his father, whose name is on the Raul Morin Memorial Square memorial, which he claims is the official name for the site. He says calling the monument the All Wars Memorial diminishes his father’s legacy as a war hero, and the legacy of those who served during World War II. It’s a complaint that other veterans from the area dispute and see as divisive.

Nonetheless, and despite the attempted disruption, veterans at the plaque installation ceremony were overwhelmingly pleased to see the memorial as a respected site once again.

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March 7, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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