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Graffiti is scrubbed from veterans memorial in Venice, but more restoration work remains

Graffiti on memorial to Vietnam War veterans

Vandals defaced a memorial to Vietnam War veterans in Venice.

(Stewart Oscars)

Officials said that the damage from a graffiti attack on a veterans memorial in Venice was so extensive that it will take some time to restore the monument.

Volunteers removed much of the graffiti over the Memorial Day weekend but it appears more work will be necessary to fully restore the memorial.

The memorial is painted on the side of a Metro building.

“We were initially hopeful that the graffiti could be removed without damaging the memorial, but Metro’s contractor says the damage is too extensive,” Metro CEO Phil Washington said in a statement. “Metro will work with the community to gather historical photos so the wall can be restored. In the meantime, Metro will cover the wall as a gesture of respect to the fallen whose names were covered by the graffiti.”

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Residents expressed outrage over the vandalism.

“It’s sad and shocking,” said Venice Chamber of Commerce Vice President George Francisco. “Such ignorance and animosity.”

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The damage, he said, feels especially personal -- his father was a Green Beret in Vietnam and did two combat tours.

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The mural along Pacific Avenue has a message at the top reading “You Are Not Forgotten” and bears the names of 2,273 soldiers counted as either prisoners of war or missing in action in Vietnam.

After the mural’s dedication in 1992, the artist, Peter Stewart, said he was inspired to paint the wall after attending a welcome-home parade for Operation Desert Storm veterans.

Since then, the now-fading mural along one of Venice’s main streets has become an important icon.

When longtime resident Stewart Oscars drove by Wednesday evening, he noticed the damage and turned to his wife and friend.

“Holy mackerel,” he blurted. “Look at this thing.”

Oscars, who lives a mile or so from the mural, said he felt instantly nauseous.

His mind raced with memories of his classmates who had fought in Vietnam -- a couple of whom he understands never returned. He thought, too, of Memorial Day and how veterans’ families will feel when they see the vandalism.

“It’s like a direct attack,” he said. “If you have any sense of history, you’d never do this.”

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Oscars said the graffiti stretched on for about 100 feet.

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UPDATES:

2:32 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from Metro’s chief executive.

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This article was originally published at 10:25 a.m.


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