A group hoping to rehabilitate the deteriorating “El Soldado” memorial to Latino soldiers across from the state Capitol has the money to begin the project.
Last week, the California Mexican American Veterans Memorial Beautification and Enhancement Committee formalized plans for the project and voted to continue to seek private funds, although new sidewalks will be paid for and completed by the Department of General Services.
“El Soldado” was completed in 1951 after Sacramento-area Mexican American mothers held raffles and sold homemade tamales and tacos to raise money for a memorial to commemorate their husbands and sons who fought in WWII. But the memorial, a single soldier standing at attention, has become dilapidated with several broken parts and riddled with mold.
Nearly $200,000 for the first phase has been collected. Tanis Ybarra, a member of the committee and Vietnam veteran, said that the entire project is estimated to cost $1.2 million. The committee plans to keep fundraising until the project is finished. Phase two is estimated to cost $500,000.
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Phase one work includes removing and restoring the statue, placing it on a red marble pedestal with the Medal of Honor recipients’ names on the statue’s base, and adding walkways. Ultimately, the completed project will include extensive landscaping, a garden opening up to 10th Street, and walls lining the pathways.