A group of veterans unfurled a large American flag Wednesday evening over the site of a swastika that had been burned into the grass at Memorial Park, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
“As veterans … we needed to restore dignity and honor to that location,” said Jose F. Garcia, 72, a veteran who participated in the ceremony. “We took it personal.”
On July 21, someone burned the symbol into the great lawn of the park, which faces Dodge Street. The symbol was etched into a hill that slopes to the west of the park’s white stone monument and U.S. flag that stand as a tribute to fallen military members , including those killed in World War II fighting Nazism.
By Monday, Parks Department employees had tilled, fertilized and reseeded the area.
On Wednesday evening, the veterans were at Memorial Park for a protest against Russian influence. Once it was over, they decided they needed to do something about the offensive image. Even if it had been erased by the city, the stain was still there.
“We put together a squad … got a garrison flag and proceeded to cleanse a desecrated property,” Garcia said.
A retired officer formed up roughly 15 of the veterans, all in civilian clothes, and they marched in formation the short distance down to the swastika site, two carrying the large garrison flag folded at its length.
The veterans held it just above the ground over the site and recited the pledge, “to bring back honor to that land,” Garcia said. “All the guys whose names are on that memorial died for our country.”
More than 400,000 Americans died fighting fascism in World War II.