Mural project honors Vietnam veterans

BAND OF BROTHERS— The painting of the mural completed by ELAC Art students serves as a dedication to veterans of war at the American Legion Building Post 139 in Alhambra. CN/JC CASAREZ
BAND OF BROTHERS— The painting of the mural completed by ELAC Art students serves as a dedication to veterans of war at the American Legion Building Post 139 in Alhambra. CN/JC CASAREZ

By Diego Olivares

In their mission to serve the United States, veterans give up a major part of their lives.

They sacrifice time and sometimes their limbs and life. This prompted members from the Alhambra Chapter of the American Legion to commission a mural outside            their building.

East Los Angeles College art students Elmer Guevara, Jackie Gonzalez, Saul Aguilera and Jesus de Dios were called upon to create the mural on Stoneman Avenue in Alhambra.

The mural was unveiled last May on Memorial Day.

The students were given about 10 days to complete the project during the last part of the spring semester.

As a result of their participation in this project, these students received credit for their art finals.

While painting the mural, the students worked under the guidance of ELAC art instructor Sergio Teran.

While working on the piece, they became heavily involved with it. “We usually painted at nights,” Aguilera said.

One night they got an unexpected visit. The police passed by and stopped to ask them what they       were doing.

After explaining to the police about the project, the young artists were allowed to continue working.

The mural contains imagery that represents the images burned into the memories of Vietnam Veterans.

“It’s basically a mural dedicated to war veterans with a Vietnam War theme. We tried to relate elements in the mural depicting the Vietnam War with the addition of helicopters, bamboo trees and the soldier’s attire from that era,” Guevara said.

These students said that for them it is a very ambitious project and they have put a lot of heart in it. They also said that this is something they were completely dedicated to.

The project started with a commission from the Alhambra chapter of the American Legion.

The legion’s duty is to aid Veterans of previous wars, such as the Korean and Iraq wars.

They contacted Cesar Medrano, a senior civil engineer who was part of the US Army for over 22 years.

Medrano contacted ELAC and got the students from the Art Department to join the project. “I went there (ELAC) and asked if I could get some volunteers,” Medrano said.

The project was paid by Robert Hernandez who is part of the legion’s committee for Veterans Affairs. However, the students created the style of the piece itself.

When ELAC Art Instructor Robert Acuna heard of this project, he decided to speak to his colleague Teran. It was through Teran that the students got together to work            on the mural.

“I believe that the information was brought to (Teran) from another source. Soon after we gathered a crew of four students and started plotting the mural,” Guevara said.

Aguilera, who has been fascinated by the visual arts since he was a child said, “We didn’t get to name it, but it speaks for itself. The concept was to pay respects to all fallen soldiers that have fought for our country during the Vietnam War.”

Aguilera said that he is happy because he had the chance to work along other talented artists.

Guevara said that even though they had a short time to work on the project, he feels good because they accomplished something.

Medrano said that he hopes that this can bring a positive light not only to Veterans, but to ELAC as well. “We want to show the community that we are doing big things,” Medrano said.

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