Civic leaders and local residents came together on Monday to honor the many Mexican American members of the military forces who lost their lives fighting for the United States. This year marked the the 72nd anniversary of the annual Memorial Day commemoration at the Cinco Puntos All Wars Memorial in Boyle Heights.
An Eastside tradition, the ceremony came after a 24-hour Vigil at the monument where veterans and volunteers stood guard as a special tribute.
The All Wars Memorial sits right on the border of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles in what is known as Raúl Morín Square. It includes a monolith honoring the 350,000 Mexican Americans who fought in World War II. Mexican Americans have the highest percentage of Medal of Honor winners of any US minority group.
Tony Zapata, a Vietnam War veteran and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1013 representative, opened the event with the Pledge of Allegiance. A Los Angeles Police Department helicopter flew overhead as LAPD Detective Chris Reza sang the national anthem. Garfield High School Junior ROTC cadets followed with the presentation of colors.
Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard and Jimmy Gómez, County Supervisor Hilda Solís, Councilmember José Huízar, and Monsignor John Moretta were among various speakers who came to honor the thousands of people of Mexican descent who have served the country.
“Let us never forget our responsibility to protect our country and our great democracy,” said Roybal-Allard. “Let us all pledge to do our part, as did the men and women we honor today, to ensure our nation remains free, strong, and a beacon of hope for generations to come.”