BELL GARDENS — Hundreds of people gathered Saturday for the unveiling of a new veterans memorial — a statue honoring 39 Hispanic Congressional Medal of Honor recipients.
The statue is flanked by two obelisks to be engraved with the names of all 3,436 medal recipients.
“We enjoy the blessing of peace because of the ongoing sacrifice of millions of veterans,” Mayor Ramiro Morales said during the Memorial Day weekend tribute. “Today we are honoring the courage and patriotism of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients.”
The statue is believed to be the only existing memorial to any specific ethnic or racial group among medal recipients. Another memorial to Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients, to be placed in downtown Los Angeles, is in the planning stages.
“Hispanic Americans played an important role in the defense of our country,” Morales said. “The Hispanic American Veterans Memorial is long overdue.”
According to U.S. Census figures, 93 percent of residents in the city 18 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles are Hispanic.
More than 500 spectators lined the streets surrounding the memorial waving American flags as the monument was unveiled.
Designed by Peruvian sculptor Alfredo Osorio, the statue features an angel holding a laurel wreath skyward while cradling a wounded soldier.
“There are those few, in the face of extreme danger, who will step up and be guided by the angels,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca told the spectators. “And they will do tremendously heroic deeds.”