San Antonio Hispanics Plan Their Own Ethnic War Memorial
Print Friendly and PDF
A few years ago there was dust up over Ken Burns World War Two documentary The War coming from disgruntled Hispanics who thought that their ever-so-special contributions had been overlooked. Even though the film was completed, Burns caved and added some material to appease the ethnic activists after being harangued at length.

The controversy is part of a larger strategy from the raza gang of rewriting hispanics into American history where they didnt really exist. The activists want to exaggerate the importance of Hispanics by implying that they have always been here in significant numbers (which they havent), and the belief that America couldnt possibly live without them due to a high opinion of themselves which is unsupported by facts about financial and academic achievement.

The population of the whole country in 1940 was 132.2 million, and hispanics numbered around 1.6 million. Burns himself observed that the Hispanic population during the war was only 1.4 percent.

Thousands of Hispanic citizens of the US served honorably in WWII, for which all patriotic Americans are grateful. But no other ethnic group has griped that they werent singled out as special by Ken Burns. And the number simply was not significant: an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 hispanics participated among the 16 million who went to war.

Back to today, the San Antonio troublemakers say that their mondo-monument (140 feet high!) will be a tribute to ALL veterans. However the Aztec Aztlan eagles betray the ethnic supremacist agenda. It would be as if German-descended veterans erected a statue with a Nazi swastika its the symbol of a racialist ideology.

Hope still alive in effort to build Hispanic veterans monument, San Antonio Express, August 27, 2012

For four years, West Side residents have dreamed of building a towering monument to Hispanic military veterans as a way of paying them back for being underappreciated by history.

The proposed Hispanic Veterans Monument at Elmendorf Lake Park could become part of the ecosystem restoration planned there. But with an estimated construction cost of $2.25 million dependent on donations, the project also known as La Ofrenda (The Offering) has been slow-moving and faces challenges including public scrutiny.

Professionally prepared designs, which call for a 140-foot-tall tower laden with symbols including giant dog tags and Aztec eagles, must go through the citys public art review process. Still, proponents gained momentum this month with a key endorsement from the Bexar County Commissioners Court.

The decades-old notion of honoring Hispanic veterans reignited in 2008 when the PBS documentary The War, by Ken Burns, largely excluded their contributions in World War II.

This omission really was quite disappointing and really did serve as the catalyst for this monument, said retired Marine Capt. Queta Márquez. Shes a leading advocate for the project that her mother, former City Council member Lourdes Galvan, instigated after Burns snub.

Its an offering from the perspective of the Hispanic community, to honor all veterans. Its not racist. Its not just about Hispanics, Galvan said last week.

Since 2008, proponents have worked with artists, designers, engineers, construction experts and others to develop the plans for the steel structure that would sit partly on the lakes main island and partly in water.

Adorning the tower would be three stainless steel eagles perched on moons, representing vigilance and the Aztec deity Huitzilopochtli. Atop the monument, inspired by nine-step Mayan pyramids, would be a medalla, with tentative designs showing Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Michael on its two sides. The 6-by-12-foot dog tags would bear the names of the five service branches.

Project artist Jesse Treviño, a Vietnam veteran who lost an arm in combat, is beloved for his large public works, including the 93-foot-tall Spirit of Healing on Christus Santa Rosa downtown and the 40-foot-tall La Veladora at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

The structure would be about 50 feet shorter than the West Sides tallest landmark, the nearby chapel at Our Lady of the Lake University.

Features could change as the plan advances, said Gabriel Velásquez, vice chair of the Avenida Guadalupe Association who assisted in the design. In the meantime, the task for advocates is capitalizing on growing support in the community.

Theyre committed to making it happen. Now we have to deal with the realities — theres not a millionaire on the table, Velásquez said. Its a tough process.

Even so, proponents see a window of opportunity. For decades, residents have pleaded for Elmendorf park upgrades, contrasting it to the more-enhanced Woodlawn Lake Park. Residents also have been asking for a prominent monument or sculpture to be part of the parks redesign.

Now the county, city, San Antonio River Authority and other entities are beginning a makeover of the park and Apache Creek.

On Aug. 7, Márquez told the Commissioners Court that she and others are mustering new support for the monument.

Weve made some significant progress. Were ready to continue this forward momentum, she said.

Launched with a city grant of $50,000, the ad-hoc effort has benefitted from donated services of artists, engineers, marketing experts and others, she said.

Veterans of Hispanic descent have a long and illustrious history of military service, from the American Revolution all the way through the current war in Afghanistan This would serve as the place for remembrance for those veterans, Márquez said.

Commissioners approved a resolution supporting the proposed design and location. Precinct 2 Commissioner Paul Elizondo called it a good idea thats had several lives.

The resolution we passed is designed to give them impetus Thatll help them to raise money, not just here and not just on the West Side, Elizondo said.
Even with prominent backers, the monument must go through a public review process because it would be in a city park, said Felix Padrón, director of the citys Office of Cultural Affairs.

They do need to go through that process before it gets implemented, he said.
Galvan and Velásquez said they got a thumbs up in a 2008 meeting, when several city officials encouraged them to proceed with designs and planning. Before then, they took encouragement from the fact that Padrón had touted the project as futuristic, a modern sculpture of cultural and national significance, and a catalyst for future art in the Southwest United States.

Velásquez said he looks forward to the public art review process, though timing wasnt specified. The focus now is converting community interest into financial backing.

Without offering details, Velasquez said fundraising for the project is progressing you dont just go out and raise $2 million. It takes good energy directed in a good direction, and the end result is a confidence builder.

The real question is, are we a city of doers or a city of bureaucrats?

Print Friendly and PDF