Whittier Unveils Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Name of Beloved Lawyer – Whittier Daily News

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Prior to the death of Whittier resident Jose Ramos, Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri promised he and the community would not forget him.

Ramos’ story – and his advocacy – had made too much of an impression: an army combat medic who cycled his way across the country to gain official recognition of March 30 as National Veterans Day. Vietnam.

On Friday, August 19, Vinatieri and the community of Whittier delivered on that promise to Ramos with the unveiling of a 4-by-10-foot memorial in Central Park.

  • Officials and family members unveil the memorial honoring the late Jose Ramos, a former Whittier Army combat medic who worked for more than a decade to see a day honoring veterans recognized Vietnam War fighters August 18, 2022 in West Covina, California. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • (Lr) Members of Whittier City Council, Fernando Dutra speaking,...

    (Lr) Members of Whittier City Council speaking, Fernando Dutra, Mayor, Joe Vinatieri, Octavio Martinez, Jessica Martinez and Cathy Warner. A memorial was unveiled in honor of the late Jose Ramos, a former Whittier Army combat medic who worked for more than a decade to see a day honor recognized Vietnam War veterans, said was unveiled on August 18, 2022 in West Covina, CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • Veterans gather behind the memorial honoring the late Jose Ramos,...

    Veterans gather behind the memorial honoring the late Jose Ramos, a former Army combat medic from Whittier who worked for more than a decade to see a day honoring veterans of the Vietnam War recognized August 18, 2022 in West Covina, CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • Janelle Ramos speaks at the unveiling of a memorial honoring...

    Janelle Ramos speaks at the unveiling of a memorial honoring her grandfather, the late Jose Ramos, a former Whittier Army combat medic who worked for more than a decade to see a day honor recognized Vietnam War veterans August 18, 2022 in West Covina, California. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • Friends and family of Jose Ramos stand and greet...

    Friends and family of Jose Ramos stand and salute the Whittier PD honor guard. The memorial honoring the late Jose Ramos, a former Whittier Army combat medic who worked for more than a decade to see a day honoring Vietnam War veterans recognized, was unveiled August 18, 2022 in West Covina, California. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • A memorial in honor of the late Jose Ramos, a former army...

    A memorial honoring the late Jose Ramos, a former Whittier Army combat medic who worked for more than a decade to see a day honoring Vietnam War veterans recognized, was unveiled August 18, 2022 in West Covina, California. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

About 150 veterans – including many from Ramos’ Vietnamese generation – attended the introduction of the memorial depicting Ramos on his bicycle and in Vietnam.

“We won’t forget what he did for his soldiers,” Vinatieri said. “I know he looks down on us today as we honor bravery and sacrifice and say thank you to our veterans together as a community.”

Ramos’ advocacy lasted decades after his return from the war. His years of grassroots efforts culminated in the official recognition of March 30 as Vietnam Veterans Day in the state of California.

Ramos enlisted in the army as a 10th grade student, in December 1965. He became a doctor, was shot in the leg and awarded the Purple Heart. He returned home in October 1968. Decades later, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

He worked in emergency rooms at USC Los Angeles County Medical Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital before retiring in 1999.

And then came his cycling.

Ramos first took a bike tour through Vietnam with other veterans from both sides of the conflict. In 2004, he rode his bike from Whittier to Washington, DC, to ask then-President George W. Bush to proclaim March 30 a holiday in remembrance of Vietnam veterans.

Ramos, whose veterans efforts continued, died in September 2017 after a battle with cancer. Soon after, plans began for different ways to honor her. An exhibit on Ramos opened in 2019 at the Whittier Museum.

Whittier’s Michian Avenue Post Office was named after Ramos in April.

Plans to build a memorial honoring Ramos were announced in 2018 and have gone through various iterations. The current plan and site were announced in November 2020.

But earlier this year, members of the Whittier Friends Church disputed the location because the monument’s war scenes would contrast with the pacifist ethos of the Quakers – who founded Whittier.

Whitttier City Council ultimately voted in favor of the Central Park site.

Frederic Shacklett, historian for the American Legion Department in California, said he was not surprised by the controversy.

“It’s not unexpected, but given Whittier and its history, it’s understandable, but I’m glad the city council worked on it,” Shacklett said.

Shacklett also praised the memorial.

“This is one of the most remarkable Vietnam veteran memorials I have seen recently, he said. “It’s an incredible work of art. That’s wonderful. I hope the town of Whittier is proud of what it has done for veterans.

Phillip Garcoa de Fontana, who served in 1966-67, said the artwork was significant.

“It’s very important for the guys who came home and weren’t welcome,” Garcia said. “We never have enough.”

Connie Quinones, Ramos’ sister, said she loved the artwork.

“I think it’s beautiful,” Quinones said. “Everything we do is great. I love it. I love it. I love it.”

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