By Daniel Muñoz
It started with a couple of veteranos reminiscing, over a couple drinks at the Don Diego post five years ago, when the idea of honoring Logan Heights’ war veterans sprung to life. From this conversation the Logan Heights Veterans Memorial (LHVM) Committee was created and in partnership with the Chicano Park Steering Committee came together and broke ground for a future memorial to stand in the northeast side of Chicano Park. The memorial will honor all the veterans and soldiers of the Logan Heights area.
On November 11, 2008 with the first shovel of dirty it was announced that:
“This memorial … will stand as a testament to the courage, valor, and sacrifices made by all,” stated LHVM Committee spokesperson, John Crespin. “The monument will honor the veterans and soldiers of the very diverse community of Logan Heights and all of San Diego. It will be a place to pay homage, to reflect, and to remember. Our fallen heroes have certainly earned it and the community deserves it.”
That was four years ago. Turning the first shovel of dirty was only the beginning. The monument idea already had community and political support, next came the process of getting the permits, the Parks and Recs okay, and now they are on the verge of completion… all they need to do is to raise about $24,000. To date they have raised $8,000, and are well on their way to see their dream finally come true.
We started this project back in 2007. I along with John Banuelos were sitting in the VFW one day and we were saying ‘no one has ever recognized any of our veterans from Logan Heights’,” stated Frank Peralta, vice chairman of the project.
“John and I were talking (after a funeral they attended that day) talking about life being too short and too sweet, poor Dinde (Alonzo) is gone and then we started talking about his brother, who died during the Vietnam war, and that is where we came up the idea of a monument,” stated Peralta. “Albert Banuelos, John’s brother was the imputes for this idea, but we wanted to honor all the veterans and decided that Chicano Park would be the best place for that. Chicano Park is the heart of the community.”
John Banuelos’ brother Albert Banuelos was awarded the Silver Star (posthumously), December 1968 for his heroic actions in Vietnam when Albert advanced one hundred yards under heavy fire to save a wounded soldier lying in an open field. Banuelos was wounded but continued on until he reached his man. On the way back with his wounded man Banuelos was mortally wounded.
It was said that Banuelos’ heroic actions spurned on his fellow comrades as they assaulted the enemy and completely routed the insurgents.
The monument planned for Logan Heights is for men and women of the community who, like Banuelos, made the sacrifice by leaving their home, family, and friends, risking their lives to serve and protect their country.
“Now we are at the final stages, the green light is there and we are ready to go, the only thing stopping us now is money,” stated Peralta.
The plan is to unveil the monument on Nov 11, 2012, four years to the day from when they turned the first shovel of dirt.
So how do they plan on raising the money?
“We are doing mailers, we are going to have a dance at the Eagles, we are going to have a golf tournament and we are going to write letters to some of the bigger businesses in Logan Heights, maybe they will contribute, because they are part of the community,” said Peralta.
On this Memorial Day weekend the community of Logan Heights is well on their way to honor all the veterans of Logan Heights with a monument that is long over due for those heroes of this neighborhood.
The memorial committee will be hosting a dance Saturday, June 23, at the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 3848 Centre Street, San Diego. Donation is $20 per person or a table for $200 (10 persons). Tickets at the door will be $25.00
For tickets to the dance or to donate to the Logan Heights memorial contact Frank Peralta at (619) 988-1853 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their web site for more information and photos of local veterans at: www.lhveteransmemorial.com/index.html