A Vietnam War memorial in the Venice area of Los Angeles has been extensively defaced by graffiti.
In the week before Memorial Day, Venice residents noticed the frustratingly familiar sight of graffiti.
But this time, the location was especially egregious: Vandals scrawled big, white letters over part of a mural memorializing Vietnam War veterans.
“It’s sad and shocking,” said Venice Chamber of Commerce Vice President George Francisco. “Such ignorance and animosity.”
The damage, he said, feels especially personal — his father was a Green Beret in Vietnam and did two combat tours.
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 said. “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.”
Oscars said the graffiti stretched on for about 100 feet.
Francisco, said he had exchanged emails with staffers in the office of Westside City Councilman Mike Bonin, who said they had submitted a priority graffiti clean-up request for the mural.