Cal State L.A. students honor veterans with Boyle Heights cemetery clean up

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.


  1. Nice job!

  2. This is great! Very nice of them to volunteer. This is a great looking cemetery but it’s often covered in dead grass and weeds. I understand that there is limited resources to pay for a landscaping crew, which is a shame. Right now most of the grounds are a lustrous green thanks to the rain. Hope they keep up the good work.

  3. Well done Cal State LA Student Vets!

  4. This is the type of thing students SHOULD be doing in their community. Thank you, Eastsider for for covering an often looked over University and highlighting the good work being done by the students of CSULA.

  5. Great Job Guys!

    Why can’t we get over 10 posts supporting something positive on the Eastsider and yet regularly get over 40 for anything about hipsters aka “white people” living in eastsider territory.

  6. Dear Ms. Shigematsu and Golden Eagle Vets of Cal State L.A.,

    A sincere thanks to you. Your concrete actions honor our brave soldiers who died fighting for America. You help give them a more dignified final resting place befitting their valiant status.

    Many of these soldiers, especially those of Japanese ancestry assigned to the famed 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, fought the the enemy overseas, while they and their families also faced racial prejudice here in America at the time of WWII. These soldiers proved their loyalty and love of America through their bravery on the battlefield. Although the 1ooth/442nd soldiers distinguished themselves as the most decorated unit for their size in American military history, they paid for this distinction at a painful cost for themselves and their families. It is truly amazing that there are four (4) Medal of Honor recipients buried in this one little section of Evergreen Cemetery.

    My parents are buried about one hundred (100) feet from these soldiers. Whenever I visit my parents, I also visit these soldiers. I bow before them in humility and thank them for having paid the ultimate price to keep America free.

    I have often tried to tidy up the burial sites of these soldiers by removing weeds and dirt that encroach upon their grave markers. I have found it sad over the years that this section of Evergreen Cemetery has not been better maintained. That is why I find it very uplifting that you all are volunteering your time and efforts in improving the final earthly resting place of these fallen heroes. You are my heroes for doing this.

    To the Golden Eagle Vets of Cal State Los Angeles, thank you for your service to our country. May God bless you and the United States of America.

    Also, thanks to the Eastsider newspaper for publishing the article.

  7. Echoing Fred, many, many thanks. I have two uncles — WW II and Korea — memorialized there, along with nearly every member of my family in other parts of Evergreen.

    One of the Medals of Honor was the first and only until President Clinton upgraded several others to the MOH. That honor went to LA boy Sadao Munemori — drafted out of Manzanar, fought in Italy with the famed 442nd. A German grenade landed amongst Munemori and his buddies. He fell upon it to save them. His parents received the medal behind the barbed wire at Manzanar.

  8. Awesome! My thanks to our vets and CSULA!

  9. So proud.them young people are honoring..our veterans..Thank You.

  10. Awesome. Thank you, CSULA Golden Eagle Vets, for your sincere caring, hard work, and for remembering. And thanks, also, to The Eastsider LA for spreading this good news.

  11. Laura Shigemitsu

    Thank you very much for covering this! I am very proud of the students for deciding to volunteer at Evergreen as part of their desire to continue serving their community.

    Our phone number is 323.343.5080 if you have any questions.

    Respectfully, Laura

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