San Jose has a population of 900,000 and a veteran population of 110,000. In other words, over 10 percent of the city’s population consists of veterans. Some notable vets include Mayor Chuck Reed, as well as his daughter, pilot Kim Campbell, who won a Distinguished Flying Cross in 2003 after her plane was hit over Iraq.
It would therefore seem that the city would hold its veterans in the highest regard. It certainly seemed that way on Veterans Day 1997, when a memorial was dedicated to the men and women of San Jose who served their country proudly and paid the ultimate sacrifice. The memorial features 76 flagpoles and a wall with photographs of the veterans, along with quotes of letters that they wrote home. To protect the display, it is kept behind a glass wall.
The problem is that there is nothing to protect the glass wall. The first panel was smashed six years ago in an act of vandalism. Since then, more panels have been smashed and repaired, smashed and repaired, eating up all the money in the endowment. So the panels got a plywood covering instead, hardly a suiting memorial to the men and women who fought.
The city hopes to have the glass restored by Memorial Day, but there is not enough money available to make the necessary repairs. Simply replacing the glass will cost $57,000. So San Jose/Santa Clara Valley Veterans Memorial Endowment is trying to raise donations. Times are rough, they admit, and donations are harder to come by for any cause.
Andrew Bales of Symphony Silicon Valley led the effort to get the memorial erected. He recognizes that it will be difficult to raise the total sum but hopes that there will be enough left over for an insurance policy as well—and that the vandals who smashed the glass take a moment to think about what they really destroyed.