Filipino World War II Veterans Memorial
Lake Street Park, Historic Filipinotown,
227 N. Lake Street, Los Angeles, CA
Designed by Cheri Gaulke, Artist
Commissioned by L.A. City Council District 13, Eric Garcetti, Councilmember
Unveiled on Veterans Day, November 11, 2006
Project Description The memorial honors the struggles, victories and patriotism of the Filipino World War II veterans. Five large black granite monoliths (5-7’ tall x 3-4’ wide) rise from the ground and two granite benches (1.5’ tall x 2-5’ wide) allow viewers to sit in meditation before them. Etched onto the face of the monoliths are photographs and text that tell the story including: the historical relationship between the United States and the Philippines, the invasion of the Philippines by Japan, the brave defense and battles of WWII, the surrender and horrific Bataan Death March and prisoner of war camps, General MacArthur’s return to the Philippines, the independence of the Philippines resulting in the loss of veterans’ benefits, and the ongoing struggle to receive recognition by the US government.
Materials In the space between the second and third monolith rises a vertical sheet of dichroic glass that shifts in color from warm copper to cool blues as the viewer moves in front of it. The shimmering dichroic glass serves as a contemporary eternal flame. The materials are both traditional (exquisite black granite with engraved text) and contemporary (dichroic glass and etched photographs on granite). The front and back surfaces of the black granite are highly polished and the top and sides are a natural broken surface. The black granite speaks to the strength and substance of the story; the broken edges give an earthy quality befitting a memorial; the highly polished surface reflects the viewer calling them to involve themselves in the story. The first four monoliths recount the war experience and the fifth tells the story of the quest for benefits. The space between the fourth and fifth monolith forms a V, subtly representative of veteran, valor and victory. The two granite benches have the word “valor” etched in English and Tagalog.
Placement The monoliths are arranged on a slope between the street and the recreation center at Lake Street Park in the Historic Filipinotown section of Los Angeles. The street side of the memorial has the word “valor” etched quite large, a map of the Philippines, and a quote from a survivor of the Bataan Death March which states, “Bataan was not our last battlefield. We are still fighting for equity.” At the recreation center side, viewers can walk towards the monoliths and read the story, or stop and sit on the benches and contemplate history. The intention of the memorial design is to be a place where the veterans themselves can tell their stories, as well as a place that teaches future generations about these important historic events.
—Cheri Gaulke, Artist