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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The monumental effort to build a Glassell Park veterans memorial

The idea was to build a simple memorial – perhaps a flag pole, plaques and some plants – honoring the veterans of Glassell Park. “It’s not going to be something super fancy,” said Art Camarillo, a 68-year-old Glassell Park resident and former Marine. But, after more than seven years of community meetings, conceptual designs and more meetings, Camarillo and other Glassell Park vets will see another Veterans Day come and go without a neighborhood memorial.

The idea for the monument came from another Glassell Park resident, 40-year-old Mark Quiroz, whose wife wondered why Cypress Park and other neighborhoods had veterans memorials but not Glassell Park. “I don’t see why we can’t have some type of monument,” the Navy reservist recalls her saying. That’s what prompted Quiroz to eventually team up with Camarillo, who serves as vice chairman of the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council’s Veterans’ Memorial Committee, to work on the project.

There was the obvious challenge to raise sufficient money to build the memorial. Even more troublesome, however, was finding a location for the monument. The original site in a wide grassy median on Eagle Rock Boulevard near Avenue 35 met with some opposition from some residents concerned that the memorial would glorifying war. “It’s not glorifying war,” Camarrillo said. “It’s just to remember the veterans. They gave their life to the country.”

Concerns were also raised about the cost of installing lighting (the flag needs to be illuminated at night) as well as the safety of having people across the wide street to get to the median. So, over the years, Quiroz and Camarillo looked at other sites, ranging from the Glassell Park Recreation Center to another spot further north on Eagle Rock Boulevard. Now, it looks like the preferred site is back at on the Eagle Rock Boulevard median between avenues 34 and 35 but other sites may still be considered.

Quiroz said that things have taken longer than expected in part because he has been called back to active duty several times with the Navy. He was interviewed for this story via telephone while serving with a security unit. “I did not think it would take so long,” said Quiroz.

The office of Councilman Eric Garcetti, who is a Naval reservist, stands ready to help
in anyway it can to build a veterans memorial, said Mitch O’Farrell, director of constituent services. “The Councilman believes very strong in this effort,” he said.

The most recent design calls for a flagpole with lighting, a few benches and a three-foot high wall with bronze plaques commemorating the veterans of Glassell Park. Later this month, the veterans will seek a $15,000 grant from the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council. Quiroz is seeking discounts on everything from the flag poles to the stainless-steel letters to stretch the budget.

Despite the financial challenges, Quiroz and Camarillo say that perhaps next year Glassell Park veterans will be able to gather closer to home on Veterans Day.

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Top photo by ChrisJFry/Flickr



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