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VJAMM Committee Receives Certificate of Recognition

From left: Los Angeles City Council 11th District Senior Field Deputy Len Nguyen, Suzanne Thompson, Commission President Pro Tempore Michael Davis, Jennifer Tomita (kneeling with poster), Commissioner Joel Jacinto, Mae Kakehashi, Commission President Kevin James, Phyllis Hayashibara (with certificate), Office of Community Beautification Director Paul Racs, Kay Brown, Arnold Maeda, Brian Maeda, Colleen Hoff (Kakehashi’s daughter), Emily Winters, Commission Vice President Heather Repenning. (Photos by Suzanne Thompson)

On behalf of the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works, Commissioner Joel Jacinto presented to members of the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee on May 26 a Certificate of Recognition.

Commissioner Joel Jacinto reads the BPW Certificate of Recognition to the VJAMM Committee into the public record.

The committee was honored “for your dedicated volunteer service over the past seven years, and your partnership with the Board of Public Works, through the Adopt-a-Median Program, to successfully build and install a permanent memorial monument to honor Americans of Japanese ancestry. This monument, dedicated on April 27, 2017 in the community of Venice, marks the spot where over 1,000 persons of Japanese ancestry assembled before their forced relocation to Manzanar War Relocation Center.”

Jacinto spoke at the VJAMM dedication and invited the VJAMM Committee to return to the Board of Public Works to be honored as part of its celebration of May as Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month.

Members of the committee had appeared before the board on March 25, 2015, requesting the board’s approval of the recommendations of the Office of Community Beautification, directed by Paul Racs. The board unanimously approved the OCB’s recommendations “to grant VJAMM Committee revocable permission to encroach within the public right-of-way to install a black granite memorial obelisk at the northwest corner of Venice Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard in Council District 11; requesting city engineer to issue a no-fee revocable permit and a no-fee A-permit for the work to be performed; requesting Bureau of Contract Administration to provide no-fee inspection of the project.”

The committee also expresses deep appreciation to OCB liason Gerry Valido and Salyna Cun before she left the OCB, and to Len Nguyen, senior field deputy for 11th District’s Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin, without whose expert guidance and perseverance the monument could not have been completed as planned. Board of Public Works President Kevin James appeared to coin a new word when he commended the VJAMM Committee for its “sticktoitiveness.”

Commission President Pro Tempore Michael Davis eloquently addressed the VJMM Committee: “Today I want to commend the entire Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument committee for the work that they have done, and not only putting together [a]dynamic monument that tells a story that many in this city may not have not known about. But through the work that you have done, you represent what it means to experience the American Dream. . . .

“As we all, who have had experiences as minority cultures in this country, have encountered these challenges, one of the things that has become very apparent and that clearly is, that there is more that unites us in different cultures than that [which]divides us . . .

“People would like for us to have a color-blind society. However, there is an effort that recognizes that we must rather have a multi-cultural society, one that does recognize that there are different colors, and different heritages and backgrounds. And I think we are stronger as a result of it.”

Davis concluded by describing the VJAMM as “quite an asset, quite an educational lesson to all those of us in Los Angeles.”

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