Photo courtesy Cal State L.A.
Evergreen Cemetery is the resting place for a large number of veterans, including four Japanese-Americans who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their service during World War II. But a section of the Boyle Heights cemetery near a memorial to the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team had become neglected and overgrown with weeds over the years. That prompted the Golden Eagle Vets at Cal State L.A., a student group, to begin monthly clean ups of the grave site. The first clean up was conducted on Tuesday by about about a dozen people, who cleared away weeds, dusted off gravestones and cleaned up other debris from among the graves of veterans from World II as well as the Korean War and even World War I, said Laura Shigemitsu, director of the Veterans Affairs office at Cal State L.A.
The idea of the monthly clean ups came from a student after the screening of a documentary on the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Some of the footage include scenes of the neglected memorial at Evergreen Cemetery, which prompted a student to ask what could be done to clean things up at the cemetery, the resting place for one of the nation’s largest concentration of Medal of Honor recipients, said Shigemitsu.
Evergreen is a private cemetery with a limited budget and other constraints that have made it a challenge to maintain the grounds, Shigemtsu said. “They do the best they can with limited resources,” she said.
That’s why the Cal State L.A. veterans group decided to step forward and “adopt” the cemetery and pledge to conduct monthly clean ups as part their commitment to community service. Shigemtsu said the clean ups are open to the public. Now, “if family members walk by, it will looks nice,” Shigemitsu said.
Anyone who would like to help out at future cleans should call the university’s Veterans Office at (323) 343-3840.