With helicopter soaring overhead and arms in salute, dozens gathered Friday at Cinco Puntos to honor veterans in the community who have served in the nation’s armed forces.
An Eastside tradition organized by Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 1013, this year’s ceremony was special – marking the last time annual participant Lucille Roybal-Allard, the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress, would be attending the event while in office.
“It is my greatest hope, not just as your representative but also as a Boyle Heights girl, that over the years I have made a positive difference in our community, serving our country with integrity and in a manner worthy of the unyielding service, sacrifice and devotion exemplified by the courageous women and men we honor today.Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, CA 40th District
The longtime 40th District Representative, born and raised in Boyle Heights, awarded veterans present at the event with a special pin dedicated to those from the Eastside who have served in the United States Armed Forces over the years.
In return, Vietnam War veteran and VFW Post 1013 Commander Tony Zapata presented the 81-year-old Congresswoman with a plaque thanking her for years of support towards the Veteran community of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles: “There’s a lot of issues that many Mexican-American veterans face out here, and we’ve been going day by day trying to change that. She’s always been there right by our side.”
The East Los Angeles Boyle Heights Coalition takes a stand
Members of the East Los Angeles Boyle Heights Coalition took a stand during the event to protest government plans to build a roundabout at Cinco Puntos, a move which Sofía G. Quiñones says would destroy Raúl Morín Square and the Mexican-American All Wars Memorial.
“Cinco Puntos is only here because of our own community, our people who raised funds to build these monuments to remember our soldiers who gave their lives to make a difference,” said Quiñones during the event. “The City of Los Angeles does not care to listen to our community’s cries against this project. We are here to make a statement and we hope that this egregious erasure does not come to fruition.”
The group was ackowledged during the ceremony by keynote speaker Mickiela Montoya from the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs: “I commend these protesters for taking a stand for what they believe in. Protesting is a right that we have always fought to protect. It’s something I did myself after my service in the army when I found myself being a homeless mother.”
The protesting group also called for Councilman Kevin De León, notably absent from this year’s ceremony, to resign from his position immediately for his involvement in the recent LA City Council controversy over racist comments in a leaked recorded conversation as well as his support for the roundabout project. Also absent were Congressman Jimmy Gomez and assemblymembers Wendy Carrillo and Miguel Santiago, who were expected at the ceremony.
De León has denied that the project would destroy any of the monuments at the historic five-point intersection of Lorena and Indiana Streets, the traditional site of annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies over the years.