5 Months After It Was Vandalized, Local Monument Honors Veterans

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Southland Young Marines open and close the Veterans Day event at the H.E.R.O.E.S. monument at Freedom Park in San Dimas. More than 300 community members and veterans attended to honor those who have served in the U.S. military. Photo: Phil Ebiner

By Melanie Henson

More than 300 people attended the 8th Anniversary of the Helping Establish a Remembrance of Every Serviceperson (H.E.R.O.E.S.) Monument Dedication on Nov. 11 at Freedom Park in San Dimas. The event honored service members with a roll call of names and musical tributes from vocal soloists and bagpipers from Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Covina. Families of fallen service members were also honored.

“We will never forget your bravery and your generosity in ensuring our freedoms,” said San Dimas resident and H.E.R.O.E.S. board member Eloise Logan.

During the event, Logan, the mother of fallen hero Jim Logan, was called to the podium as a surprise honor.

“I love this monument because I can come here and know that the city of San Dimas expresses their love to me in how you helped build this monument. I appreciate every single person in this community because I know you know it’s an important place.”

San Dimas resident and H.E.R.O.E.S. board member Eloise Logan speaks at the podium during the Veterans Day event at Freedom Park. Logan received special recognition for being the mother of a fallen hero Jim Logan. Photo: Phil Ebiner

Thirty-three new names now appear on the wall of the San Dimas H.E.R.O.E.S. monument, and four pavers, or engraved memorial stones, were added to the area surrounding the monument.

“This beautiful monument has become a beacon of light for our honored veterans,” Logan said.

San Dimas resident Norm Gwinn comes from a military family. “I feel this event is a great salute to veterans,” said Gwinn, who served in the Air Force in Germany during the time of the Korean War as a non-commissioned officer. 

Gwinn’s family purchased a paver to add to the monument. “It’s a nice gesture,” he said. “Everybody is always very thankful that you serve. I hear that a lot.”

San Dimas resident Norm Gwinn is a veteran who comes from a military family. Gwinn’s family purchased a paver at the H.E.R.O.E.S. monument at Freedom Park. Photo: Phil Ebiner

Local resident Linus Durkan attended the event in memory of his three brothers, Joe, Brian and Jimmy, each of whom lived in San Dimas at one time or another. “They were all Marines,” Durkan said. “They have pavers on the monument.”

Veterans say they are happy current service members are also honored by the monument. “It’s not a memorial,” said San Dimas resident and H.E.R.O.E.S. co-founder Gary Enderle who served during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.“It’s for any local service person as a place of honor for them.” 

Terri Bearden, a San Dimas resident, served in the Navy Hospital Corps from 1967 to 1970 with the rank of hospital corpsman second class. Bearden said she has seen respect for military personnel grow in recent years. “Things were bumpy when I first left the service,” she said. “Today, I think the community treats veterans beautifully.”

She pointed to two factors: greater community outreach, plus veterans opening up about their experiences.

“Things didn’t just change on their own,” she said. “It isn’t just up to citizens to show vets they care. It is also on us (service members) to stand up, to get out in the community and say, ‘Here we are. Here is who we are.’”

Veterans and civilians alike said they appreciate the community effort that went into building the monument. In fact, the monument was entirely funded by donations.

“We had builders put the monument up, but it belongs to everyone who donated and who buys a paver today in honor of a vet they know,” Enderle said. “People can say, ‘That’s mine, because I helped it come to be.’”

The monument was vandalized in June when an unknown assailant wrote explicit messages on the monument in permanent marker and left trash strewn about the area.

Claremont resident 2nd Lt. Elijah Song came to Freedom Park for his commissioning ceremony in June. “It’s traditional to have your commissioning ceremony at a memorial or monument,” Song said. “It’s a way to honor those who served before.”

When Song discovered the materials left from the vandalism, he and his family helped clean up then proceeded with his ceremony.

New cameras were installed at the H.E.R.O.E.S. monument in September, and San Dimas police regularly drive by the monument, Enderle said.

San Dimas resident and H.E.R.O.E.S. co-founder Gary Enderle visits the monument at Freedom Park in San Dimas that is meant to honor and recognize all veterans for their service. “It belongs to everyone who donated and who buys a paver today in honor of a vet they know,” Ederle said. “People can say, ‘That’s mine, because I helped it come to be.’” Photo: Rommel Alcantara

The vandalism of the monument was not a setback, according to Bearden. Instead, like the heroes it honors, the monument is a symbol of service to others and of community coming together.

In other words: it is a thank you.

“I hear ‘thank you for your service’ all the time,” Bearden said. “When I hear that, I know that I would do it all again.”

For more information about the San Dimas H.E.R.O.E.S. organization or to purchase a paver, visit sandimasheroes.org.


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