Veterans memorial unveiled outside City Hall

DOWNEY - In a celebratory service presided by the Downey City Council, a patriotic crowd joined with local civic leaders outside City Hall to commemorate Veterans Day along with the unveiling of a new 15-foot Veterans Memorial. One by one, community leaders stood adjacent to the new memorial and applauded the service and sacrifice of veterans everywhere.

"It's an honor to be here on behalf of the state of California and the state Assembly to honor the great service of our veterans," said Assembly member Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens. "We have two million veterans in the state of California. Every year, we spend $8 million for veterans' health services and resources to make sure our veterans live long and fruitful lives. It's an honor to represent Downey, the state of California and our veterans."

After acknowledging each veteran in attendance, Mayor Roger Brossmer shared his personal determination to establish a permanent monument at City Hall to honor the military service of every Downey veteran.

"I'm thankful to the city staff for getting this done," said Brossmer before the new memorial was unveiled. "This was a 5-0 vote to make this happen, but it's the staff that gets things done."

The regal sculpture incorporates a 10-foot tall stainless steel, abstract "eternal flame" within a 15-foot pentagonal pool of water. Five granite pedestals with large brass coins inset on top pay tribute to each branch of the U.S. armed forces.

According to original estimates, the Veterans Memorial was expected to cost close to $300,000, which the city paid using public art funds.

The sculpture was designed by James T. Russell, in conjunction with a city subcommittee that included Brossmer, Councilman Mario Guerra, planning commissioner Mike Murray, and local residents Rick Rodriguez and Johnny Venegas.

"This sculpture embodies the life and spirit of our veterans," said Russell. "They will always continue to shine and never flicker."

U.S. Army Captain Victor Shen who served in both Iraq and later Afghanistan delivered a keynote address during the ceremony reflecting on the sacrifice of those who inspired him during his several tours of duty in the Middle East.

"This is the face of our new veterans -- the post-9/11 generation -- scars unseen, when one falters we lift him up," Shen said. "We see the enduring spirit of America in the unbroken chain of patriots who serve time and time again. You and your families have protected what we hold so dear, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

********** Published: November 15, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 31