By Bill Hendrickson
Dozens of volunteers gathered on Saturday, August 24, to put finishing touches on the plaza and landscaping of the newly refurbished Veterans Memorial at the intersection of York Boulevard and Figueroa Street in Highland Park.
The centerpiece of the Memorial is the fountain, which has been brought back from a state of severe disrepair. On this Saturday morning, the volunteers could hear the drops and feel the spray as the water cascaded.
The flag pole that dominates the plaza is still in need of a new flag and a few plaques have yet to be installed, said Bill Cody, the area representative for CD 1 City Councilmember Gil Cedillo. But those will all be in place by the time of the re-dedication of the Memorial to be led by Cedillo on November 11, 2019, Veterans Day, said Cody.
The volunteers included members of the Franklin High School football team and staff from the Audubon Center at Debs Park, including the Audubon Center Director, Marcos Trinidad, an Army veteran and Grand Marshall of last year’s Veterans Day Parade in Northeast Los Angeles.
There were also volunteers from the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, including Stephanie Maynetto, a 10-year Army veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who attended with her Dad, Guillermo Maynetto, a Marine veteran. Members of “The Mission Continues,” a veterans group, also helped out as did photographer Al Strange, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War.
It took a long time to get to this point: Cedillo first secured the funds in December 2018. At the time, the work was expected to be completed by February. Clearly, that turned out to be too optimistic.
Just before press time, Conrado Terassas, CD-1 communications director, told the Sentinel that the Councilmember has further improvements to the site in mind and is working to obtain more funding for them.
Now that this phase of the monument is just about compete, the question turns to how to maintain it. In the past, the area around the memorial has been home to many homeless people, many of them clearly mentally ill, suffering and impaired. The monument has been fixed, but how to keep the area from becoming an encampment is unclear.
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