Chicano Park Memorial Honors Logan Heights Veterans
By Brent E. Beltrán
On Saturday, May 18 military veterans from the community of Logan Heights were finally recognized for the sacrifices they have made throughout the years. Located in Chicano Park, a large stone memorial and flagpole—which initially broke ground on November 11, 2008—was dedicated to the many veterans from the Logan Heights area who have served and died in this country’s armed forces.
Around 300 people were on hand to watch the dedication ceremony near the pedestrian bridge that crosses over the I-5 freeway. Many were veterans, family members, friends and community members. Including almost a dozen veterans from World War II as well as many from the wars in Korea, Viet Nam and more recent ones like Iraq and Afghanistan.
The dedication ceremony, emceed by Logan Heights Veterans Memorial Committee member John Crespin, included a presentation of the flag—which will fly on the Fourth of July, Veterans and Memorial Day— by veterans Adam Gastelum, Tony Milan and Ruben Rivera; a singing of the National Anthem by Julia Price; and a twenty one gun salute and the playing of Taps by the Airborne Honor Guard–National City.
On hand to give speeches were local politicos such as Mayor Bob Filner, who pointed out that many served even though they were discriminated against in the military and at home, District 8 Councilman David Alvarez, Congresswoman Susan Davis, County Supervisor Greg Cox and State Senator Ben Hueso. Also speaking was Mac McLaughlin, President and CEO of the USS Midway Museum. A poem was read by Dr. John Bareno and the memorial monument was blessed by Father Richard Brown of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. Afterwards there was a reception up the street at the Don Diego VFW that was catered for free by Gonzalez Northgate Market.
A program was handed out to all of the attendees. Inside it stated:
“The goal of the Logan Heights Memorial Committee was to provide a special place for our veterans and their families to honor and recognize the important part of history made by members of the diverse Logan Heights community. This project was made possible through the support and collaboration of many organizations and individuals.”
Logan Heights Veterans Memorial Committee spokesman John M. Crespin said:
“It’s been a long process. We’d been dealing with a lot of permits, trying to work with the Chicano Park Steering Committee, the City Parks [and Rec], councilmember Alvarez’s office. And it’s been a long five years that it’s taken us where we’re at. We finally got here. This is a memorial for a very ethnically diversified community. It’s not only for one culture. It’s for the community of Logan Heights. And it’s dedicated to the veteran’s that have served from this community. And it’s going be a monument for veterans in the future, men and women, that they can reflect.”
I had the opportunity to interview a handful of people at the dedication. Here is what they had to say when I asked them: What does this mean to you?
“It means that the faith that they had in this country by being heroes and defending it has got to be followed through by us continuing our faith in our country and make sure we have a society where we have equal access for all.”
— San Diego Mayor Bob Filner
“It’s a great accomplishment. Something that we’ve been waiting for for awhile. It’s going to serve as an opportunity for our young people to learn that men and women from this community have served in the armed forces and that makes us a great American community here in Logan Heights. That’s what this is about.”
— District 8 Councilman David Alvarez
“I was raised in Barrio Logan. I went to Sherman Elementary and Memorial Junior High School. This is very meaningful to me. It’s late but very much appreciated recognition of the contribution of the Chicano, Mexican-American, Latino community in San Diego from almost the start of this town up through the ages and now the latest war in Afghanistan. Hopefully that’ll be over by next year.”
— Nick Aguilar, Veteran
It was a beautiful day. It took us awhile. But we got everything. We’re very honored to be in the park and every year we’re going to have a get together on Memorial Day.”
— Kenneth “Canuto” Martinez, Veteran
“I think most of the veterans here, particularly the World War II and Korean vets, they’d never been recognized by the community in general. That’s what this does. It provides an opening for community members to come and honor the fallen veterans and the live veterans that are still serving. People from Logan Heights were always proud to serve. They may have gotten drafted but they weren’t draft dodgers. They went ahead and took care of business. It shows a determination for serving our country. I think it’s awesome that we have this.”
— Howard Holman, Veteran
This is a long time coming for the veterans of Logan Heights. Many of whom were drafted or chose the military as a way out of poverty. One can say what they will about their feelings on US military involvement around the world. Regardless of that, these veterans and those who have passed away deserve to be honored and recognized. They all served at great sacrifice to themselves and their families. That is the reason for this memorial.
Brent, thanks for a great article on the dedication of the Logan Heights Veterans Memorial in Chicano Park. You did an outstanding job and there was a lot of heart in your article, thanks, Frank C.Peralta, Vice Chairman of the LHVMC
when you have time, check out our website: lhveteransmemorial.com
Brent Beltran says
Thank you, Frank. I’m glad you enjoyed my piece.
Joseph C Baca says
This article makes me veery proud, you see ,I was there the day we broke ground for “Chicano Park” many ,many years ago….
Edward Rodriguez says
No disrespect to the Veterans there, Thank you for your serve & representing our Raza with pride. But why does everyone connected with Barrio Logan or Chicano Park ignore WWII Veteran & S.D.H.S. Baseball Standout Nay Hernandez ????? This young Man was a Barrio Logan Resident, who played for the Pacific Coast Padres before he was drafted into the Army during WWII. He was killed in action in Germany. All those murals of Mexico is fine & dandy, even the statue of Zapata is kool. Even I don’t know why he got a statue instead of C. Chavez. We need to start giving our children Heroes they can relate to from the Barrio not Mexico. Nay Hernandez would be a good start, maybe a mural or even a statue in his honor. Am Chicano & so is my entire Familia.
Brent Beltran says
If this is something that interests you then contact the Chicano Park Steering Committee. Write up a proposal and bring it to them. Get it approved and find the funding and hire an artist to implement it. You can’t expect someone else to do it if you’re not willing to do the work required to make it happen. Get involved. CPSC meets the last Sunday of every month at the kiosco in Chicano Park.
Edward Rodriguez says
Wow, such aggression in your words. I must have hit a nerve in you, The problem with these people who run these programs are that they feel threaten by others, since their lively hood is at stake. I was born & raised in Barrio Logan. My family was there before the bridge was built. Am 56 years old now, & you don’t even know me. Yet you wish to talk to me like I was a child. Let me tell u friend the White People are coming back to take back Barrio Logan, the only beach front property still left. Am glad, because this is the same reason our parents left Mexico, when u get a bunch of Mexicans together nothing get done. All they are concern is their wallets & the paperwork they need to fill out to justify the money for their services. Over 50 years have passed and Chicano Park looks the same. Why? Because people are afraid to lose their own personal control of the Park. I was one of those kids that walkout of Memorial Jr. High to protest the CHP station. WHERE WERE YOU? In 50 years there will be no Chicanos, Mexicans in Barrio Logan. The Charger Stadium is coming, more convention center space needed. More Hotel space will be needed. more Luxury Condos will be needed for the rich white people. Where is the cheapest land ? BARRIO LOGAN !! Believe everyone in my generation knows the B.S. that goes on down there, & the egos that block the City of San Diego from improving the Barrio all these years. And when they ask for a vote for these changes, guess what Chicanos like myself who you wish to address like if I was some uneducated illegal are going to do? We are going to vote for these improvements & in the process breakup all these little clicks that have sucked every dollar they could get using the name Barrio Logan. Than they can go to work like everyone else. I hope I see you on Chicano Park Day. I know what you look like, so you will be easy to find. Than You & I can sit down & have a really good conversation.
bob dorn says
When the resources are scarce, people have a tendency to fight over them.
We — all of us — are finding ourselves in the same leaky boat. The more of us, the more we’re likely to find some new ideas. It seems like we’re getting to those.