Dozens of U.S. veterans gathered with friends and family at the Cinco Puntos memorial Saturday for a Veterans Day ceremony that was skipped this year by most of the area’s elected officials..
Instead, members of the LAPD and other community notables were present to honor living former members of the armed forces for their service.
“Today is not about politics, it’s about community,” said Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, the only elected official at the event. “It is with profound honor and respect that I acknowledge the profound sacrifices our brothers and sisters provide.”
Julie Sands, the event’s co-organizer, opened the ceremony by expressing appreciation for the attendees. “I’m proud to bring these ceremonies to the respectful people of Boyle Heights,” Sands said during the event. Singer and LAPD detective Chris Reza then performed a moving rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner”.
Sands, whose father was a veteran and suffered from PTSD, pointed out a resource booth. “You are not your past, you are not what happened, and you are not what people say you are,” said Sands.
Army veteran Alfonso Mendoza followed up by sharing his sentiments about the importance of the day. “Today is a day we get to celebrate people who served, we get them to look a person in the eye and say thank you,” Mendoza said.
Sands also took a moment to address the recent desecration of two monuments in the area.
As The Eastsider LA previously reported, an unidentified person removed a plaque from the All Wars Memorial Obelisk at Cinco Puntos. People noticed it was missing a few weeks ago.
A plaque was also stolen from Morin Memorial Square honoring Raul Morin, a Mexican-American WWII veteran. The theft occurred sometime between Sept. 1 and Oct. 20. As of now, it’s unsure whether the two acts are connected.
“I want this monument to be respected because these veterans fought for our country. We may not agree on everything but we agree on this,” Sands said. “They stole the plaques from our monuments and now we need to replace them.”
Eddie Morin, a Vietnam War veteran and son of Raul Morin, told Boyle Heights Beat he was disappointed by these acts. “We’re outraged because it’s another act of indignation against us,” Morin said.
Still, Morin placed the focus on honoring his fellow members of the armed forces because of their commitment to maintaining freedom for U.S. citizens. “We don’t honor war, we honor our heroes and we mourn over the loss of life,” he said.