BOYLE HEIGHTS (CBSLA) – After a scaled back Cinco Puntos memorial in Boyle Heights last year, the revered local ceremony returned this year with some star power to honor Mexican Americans veterans.
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While there were salutes to veterans across the southland and the country Thursday, Cinco Puntos is celebrated next to the “Mexican American All Wars Memorial” in Boyle Heights.
“It’s a day to thank the veterans that have served this country,” Vietnam Veteran Tony Zapata said.
A third generation Mexican American, Zapata is one of many organizers for the event, which began 11 years ago as a way to honor the rich history of Mexican American veterans from the Boyle Heights area and East Los Angeles.
“I grew up in Texas. After high school, I worked a few months and then went in the service. I spent four years in the Navy,” Zapata said.
He deployed for one in Vietnam during the war and spent three more years at sea, in a helicopter squadron for the U.S. Navy. Zapata went on to be an insurance adjuster while spending the past few decades giving back to other veterans, offering services and friendships.
“We’re working for veterans. We honor veterans. I’m a veteran myself, my dad, my uncles are veterans,” he said.
The ceremony is held each year at Cinco Puntos or, which translated means Five Points.READ MORE: Authorities Investigating Fatal North Hollywood Shooting On Monday Evening
While the ceremony is a little smaller this year because of the pandemic, the honor is still very big.
“I grew up here as a little boy. I went into the Marin Corps when I was 17,” said Ceslo Jaquez, a 96-year-old World War II Veteran. “I’m so proud of the kids, the Mexican American kids that served. It’s a long difference the early 1900’s to now. It’s very different. I’m so proud of them.
Actors Madison Taylor Baez and Danny Trejo were out this year to honor the veterans.
“Let’s keep the ball rolling. God bless you, thank you so much,” Trejo told the crowd.
State and local politicians spoke about the need for veterans’ services, while also acknowledging undocumented veterans.
That’s one of Zapata’s key missions. His message for everyone also includes acknowledging and thanking veterans.MORE NEWS: Undisclosed Forensic Evidence Found In Search For Heidi Planck
“That means a lot to me, and when I thank them for their service, I think that means a lot to them,” he said.