LOS ANGELES — Volunteers rushed Sunday to clean, repaint and restore a Vietnam memorial in Venice that had been tagged with graffiti late last week, after a veteran’s appeal that was reported by Breitbart News and other outlets on Sunday morning.
“The bad guys were not going to win today. We are going to come here and repair the wall. These guys gave their lives so that we can have what we have today, and I refuse for them to be disrespected,” one volunteer told the local ABC News affiliate.
The memorial, dedicated in 1992 to Vietnam veterans missing in action or held as prisoners of war, lists the name and home town of dozens of American soldiers. The graffiti tags had obscured many of the names on the lower portions of the wall.
LA Curbed reports that much of the cleanup also removed some of the names on the wall. However, the Venice Chamber of Commerce now says that it will prioritize the restoration of the memorial.
Previously, the memorial had been due for cleaning and restoration, but locals were debating whether to turn the property into Section 8 housing or a homeless shelter. Currently, the wall and the adjacent lot are owned by L.A. Metro, the local public transit authority, which has been hosting the memorial.
On Sunday morning, Vietnam veteran Charlie Saulenas told Breitbart News he hoped to bring as many people out as possible to restore the mural by Memorial Day. ““We can restore it by tomorrow,” he said. “People have tried painting the letters again in black — but if we use some bright white paint, we can have it back to where it was by tomorrow, better than ever.”
Artist Peter Stewart, a fellow Vietnam veteran, said at the mural’s dedication in 1992: “I wanted to raise people’s awareness that there are still MIAs and POWs unaccounted for,” he told the Los Angeles Times at the time. “The more names I put on the wall, the more emotions I got from people” passing by, he said, including one man who identified one name as his brother.