Vietnam Memorial Defaced in Venice, CA

The wall in Venice, California, was tagged with graffiti just days before Memorial Day. The neighborhood is a frequent target for graffiti artists and the wall itself has been tagged before. The timing of this incident made it particularly upsetting to veterans.

Venice resident Stewart Oscars said that when he saw it on Wednesday evening, it “knocked me out,” he said. “So sickening. Just sadness—think of all these people. They’re gone. I remember the Vietnam war and how friends went to war, and bodies came back.” Oscars said that the graffiti stretched about 100 feet down the wall.

According to George Francisco, the VP of the Venice Chamber of Commerce, this is worse than regular graffiti. He believes that it carries a political message. “It’s a desecration of something that’s a tribute to people who went off to war, in a very unpopular war, and they never came back,” said Francisco. “The children who tagged this are ignorant. The children who tagged this don’t even know that it’s Memorial Day.”

The memorial was painted by Vietnam Veteran Peter Stewart in 1992 on a black wall of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority building. It lines Pacific Avenue in Venice. On the wall, there are 2,273 names painted along with the phrase, “You are not forgotten.” The taggers covered that phrase with graffiti. A volunteer painted it back over.

Councilman Mike Bonin said it was “a disgusting and disrespectful act of vandalism,” and said that his office will be working on getting the wall cleaned as soon as possible. The sheriff’s department will be investigating the crime, since the wall belongs to a Metropolitan Transportation Authority building.

Veterans volunteered that next morning to get the wall cleaned.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE