As I sat on the grass of Los Cinco Puntos Memorial, located at 3300 East Cesar Chavez, I realized how isolated the memorial was from the stores. I slowly spun around and wondered if I was the only one intrigued by the statue. Drivers and pedestrians glanced in my direction but it wasn’t enough to assume they understood the meaning of the memorial. And why was I the only person here? I know I’m not the only one who knows about this memorial. It should affect everyone living in East L.A. I don’t understand.
Nonetheless, I began to focus on the memorial and noticed the scent that pranced around. It was a mixture of freshly cut grass and the common scent of Mexican food, of course. There was the natural breeze that you inhaled daily. It made the memorial more traditional, as if you had just arrived home, into the middle of your mom’s cooking; you could smell the boiling of frijoles. Funny, I thought memorials would smell like a cemetery.
I laid on the grass to let my body relax and placed my forearm on my forehead. I laid there, listening to the growl of engines, people talking, and slowly, very slowly, I drifted away.
Suddenly, I felt this steaming pain on my right shoulder that shot down to the fingers, like someone had heated flesh-eating wax and dribbled it down my shoulder. I got up instantly, only to realize that I had flipped onto my stomach and somehow my arm got stuck between my chest and the ground. It took some time before my eyes adjusted to the sun which was now setting in clear view. I started walking away until I heard someone call me, someone whose voice I’ve never heard before. So, out of curiosity, I turned to see who it was but no one was there. Chills ran through my body. Maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me, I thought. I began to walk away again until I heard that same voice call to me, and I stopped. For some reason my legs would not move, almost as if they had a mind of their own. The creepiest part was that I, too, refused to run. Instead, I turned around and walked toward the statue because the voice was coming directly from it. I don’t know what got to me, but I began searching for that voice around the memorial as if there were something I would actually find. Then, it talked.
“You’ve called to me and now you wish to leave?” it asked angrily.
“I came ba…”
“I suggest you take a seat,” it challenged.
So I sat.
“I see you need my assistance in acquiring information about my history,” it said.
“Yeah,” I gulped.
“Well, as you know, I was built in 1947. I’ve been standing here for 69 years. Can you imagine that? I could do nothing but watch everyone’s faces in grief. At first, I wondered why it was that they never smiled at me until I realized the deaths of an estimated 750,000 men and women who fought for the U.S weren’t really much to smile about. People are proud of them but at the end of the day, it isn’t something to have a party for. The men and women who are carved into me are people who fought in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Many of the men and women were Mexican Americans, and I stand here for them. Every year on Memorial Day people stand beside me, to guard me. It may seem that no one in the community cares but you’re only 18 years old. I have seen so many people celebrate many days for these veterans. I’ve heard people pray and listened to their sobs. Many people crumble at the sight of me, many stand strong at my side for hours. As I slept, a couple of thieves stole three of my bronze plaques. I received a replacement but after that incident people have stood at my guard. It expressed how they felt about me. People have laid their hands on me, and in that touch I felt the emotions that coursed through their veins. The community has expressed so much emotion for a statue, but not just any statue, a statue that honors those who bravely fell in wars for our country. And for that, I am honored to have stood here for 69 years, representing every one of them,” it dramatically said.
It did not speak, nor did I. I stood there thinking of the people who fought for our country, the bravery. Then, I began to feel nauseated and collapsed. I woke up with my forearm still on my head and checked the time. Only five minutes had gone by though it felt like hours and the sun was still out. I got up, dazed and confused, and started to walk home. I took one last look at the memorial–it shined like a star in the night–and walked off.