Photos by Michael Garcia.
The fences have been removed from Valor Plaza at Houghton Park, where an Army helicopter known as the Huey is perched high and a memorial lists the names of the 108 local area men killed in the Vietnam War.
“We want to celebrate our veterans and thank them for their service,” Mayor Robert Garcia said at the ceremony. “Long Beach has a strong history of veterans in our community and a great tradition of honoring and supporting our veterans.”
Valor Plaza now has new landscaping, benches and lights, following community feedback about which projects needed improvements the most. A walkway now connects the sidewalk to the plaza allowing, passersby to see the Huey and memorial up close
The memorial, installed in 2000, was designed by Long Beach City College art student Christopher Umana, and features an actual Huey that flew over two thousand combat hours in Vietnam. It was dedicated on Veteran’s Day of that year, after an effort spearheaded by Long Beach Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 756.
“Long Beach started off as a navy town and was the Pacific headquarters back in the 1900s,” thirty-year navy veteran Bob Uribe told the Post. “And here we are still honoring our veterans, carrying on that culture and heritage.”
As a navy town, ships were built on the Long Beach harbors and thousands of sailors living on naval bases called the city their home.
Mayor Garcia added that he will continue to honor veterans in the community and that more projects are on the way with members of the Long Beach Veterans Commission working on the projects.
“This is our Boston Common,” Vice Mayor Rex richardson said at the ceremony. “Everything takes place at the park and we’ve really tried to pull people in and help them understand what’s happening in our park and city.”
A new digital sign also stands high at the park, displaying information about events and projects happening around the grounds.
After the ceremonies, Long Beach Poly High’s band marched the streets and decorated classic cars and Humvees slowly drove by from the Michelle Obama Library to the park as spectators cheered and said “thank-you” to those who served along the Veteran’s Day Parade route.