O’Brien Asks Mayor & Council To Make Upgrades To Fontana Veterans Memorial

Shannon O’Brien has challenged Mayor Acquanetta Warren and the Fontana City Council to redress issues relating to the veterans memorial that was built within easy visual distance of City Hall five years ago.
O’Brien commended the city for the effort to honor those who have fought for the United States in its wars and military actions around the globe, but noted that there are design flaws and vandalism issues at the memorial that should be addressed earlier rather than later to prevent those who have properly been honored from being overlooked again and ultimately forgotten.
“Our veterans are not being treated well in this city, after their contributions making it possible for us to be free and be able to have all the advantages and privileges that we have,” O’Brien said. “I am glad the City and the people of Fontana built this memorial, but I think we as citizens should take pride in it and go just a little bit further to see that it is not only maintained but tweaked to show the proper respect for what our brave soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen did for all of us.”
One shortcoming that should be redressed, O’Brien said, was “some people’s names do not have the appropriate years of service. That is important. I also agree with our veterans that the bricks honoring them should not be on the ground but on the wall.”
O’Brien noted, “The sponsors are on the wall, but you notice that the bricks commemorating the veterans are on the ground. That should have been reversed. Students and children in the area tend to ride bikes and skateboards over these bricks and not really pay attention. That is scuffing them and over time, I am afraid we won’t be able to read them. We should move the bricks honoring the veterans up onto the wall. Maybe the bricks could be a different type of material, so they can stand out. Education is important for our youth. This wall is a way for them to learn about the contributions of our community’s veterans to our national causes. If those bricks are up on the wall, it would force everyone who comes by here to look up, take notice and have respect for our veterans.”
O’Brien also said that a large plaque summarizing the spirit of sacrifice could be added to the recognition wall. And she echoed the suggestion of many of the veterans that the names that are enshrined should be distinguished and grouped together by which service they were in, which would make it easier for family members who come to the shrine to find the individual memorialized they are looking for.
The memorial already exists, O’Brien said, and just a bit more effort is needed to make it worthy of those it honors. “There is still something we can do to fix this problem,” she said, and it can be done at relatively little cost, she suggested.
The honorarium was accomplished through a joint effort involving a few prime movers, veterans and their family members, City Hall, some volunteers, veterans’ legions and donors. The cost was roughly $300,000. Nowhere near that amount is required now, O’Brien said, but action, activism and volunteerism are called for.
“If you are a professional and you know about things like this, inbox me and tell me your recommendations and also any contacts we might want to reach out to,” she said. Her email address is shannonobri@gmail.com.
She said, “Something that disturbs me is the veterans were asked to pay for their own bricks They risked their lives, yet they have to write a check, too. I would like to call on the city or the county or whoever wants to take up this cause and make things right by our veterans.”
O’Brien said, “We don’t have to start from scratch. We can build on what we have, but we should make these corrections.”
Recently, she visited the memorial with about a dozen local veterans. She noted that both time and vandalism are taking a toll. “The flags are getting eaten up by the high winds we have here in Fontana,” she said. “We need replacements for those and to do something to maintain the quality of the flags.”
She surveyed broken lights, vandalism and graffiti that marred the memorial.
“This is really upsetting to us,” one of the veterans said.
“Something needs to be done,” said another.
O’Brien suggested the city go to the expense of installing “a Ring System or something similar to what people have on their doorsteps with motion sensors and cameras, to video monitor the site and ward off graffiti and vandalism. Something like that would allow us to see and identify those who are blatantly disrespectful of our veterans so we can catch them and see that they are punished by assigning them at their own expense to repair the damage they have caused.”
She listened to one veteran who said that the city had removed a staff member from the role of overseeing the city’s banner program, which celebrated the contributions of the city’s currently serving servicemen and servicewoman. Since that staff member was removed, the veteran said, the program had languished.
“That shouldn’t be,” O’Brien, who is running against Warren for mayor in this year’s election, said. “The mayor and council should be looking at doing these things the right way.”
O’Brien said she hoped her effort to bring attention to the issues involving veterans in Fontana was not perceived as a political stunt. “This is something that needs to be done,” she said. “I am a citizen here and the granddaughter of a veteran and the niece of a veteran. Our local veterans have been in the struggle to get this fixed and it’s not happening. Now that Memorial Day is coming up, this is a perfect opportunity to do something about it.”

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