On Wednesday—just five days before Memorial Day—a Venice Mural honoring veterans of the Vietnam War was defaced by miscreants unknown. The mural, designed by artist Peter Stewart in 1992, lists the names of 2,273 soldiers listed as prisoners of war or missing in action. At the top are the words, "You Are Not Forgotten." At the time of the mural's creation, Stewart told the LA Times, "I wanted to raise people's awareness that there are still MIAs and POWs unaccounted for... The more names I put on the wall, the more emotions I got from people." Now, hundreds of those names have been covered over with spray-painted tags.
Fortunately, as reporter Rick Montanez has written on Twitter, a group of veterans began cleaning the monument this weekend. Volunteers from around the community pitched in as well. KPCC reports that the resilient mural has been tagged before, but the latest assault runs along the entire bottom half of the monument. It looks like restoring the wall, located on Pacific Avenue, to the condition it was in before it was vandalized will be a tall order. After a full day of cleaning, much of the spray paint has been removed, but the names of many soldiers have also been erased or obscured.
Hopefully the monument will soon be fully rehabilitated. In the meantime, city and county officials (the wall is on Metropolitan Transportation Authority property) are still trying to find those responsible for the ill-timed and insulting act of vandalism.