Quakers say Central Park is inappropriate site for Whittier veteran’s memorial – The Whittier Daily News

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The Central Park location of a planned memorial honoring the late Jose Ramos, a former Army combat medic from Whittier who worked for more than a decade to urge creation of a day honoring veterans of the Vietnam War, has drawn opposition from members of the Whittier First Friends Church.
Church members say they have no problem with the memorial but took issue with the location because of the monument’s war-like scenes would be in contrast to the pacifist philosophy of the Quakers — who founded Whittier. At the Tuesday, March 22, City Council meeting, Brendon Woirhaye read a statement including those sentiments on behalf of his wife, Deanna Woirhaye, presiding clerk of the Whittier First Friends Church.
 

Shown is how the memorial for the late Jose Ramos, a former Army combat medic from Whittier who worked for more than a decade to see a day honoring veterans of the Vietnam War recognized, will look like at Central Park. (Courtesy city of Whittier)

Shown is how the memorial for the late Jose Ramos, a former Army combat medic from Whittier who worked for more than a decade to see a day honoring veterans of the Vietnam War recognized, will look like at Central Park. (Courtesy city of Whittier)

Shown is a rendering of one side of the memorial for the late Jose Ramos, a former Army combat medic from Whittier who worked for more than a decade to see a day honoring veterans of the Vietnam War recognized. (Courtesy city of Whittier)

Shown is a rendering of one side of the memorial for the late Jose Ramos, a former Army combat medic from Whittier who worked for more than a decade to see a day honoring veterans of the Vietnam War recognized. (Courtesy city of Whittier)

The 4-foot by 10-foot wall at Central Park, 6532 Friends Ave, Whittier, as shown on March 24, 2022, is the first part of a memorial honoring Jose Ramos, a former Army combat medic from Whittier who worked for more than a decade to see a day honoring veterans of the Vietnam War recognized. The actual art still must be added on. (Staff photo by Mike Sprague)

Work on the 4-foot by 10-foot monument still remains to be completed by Wayne Healey, who is being paid $50,000, said Virginia Santana, director of parks, recreation and community services.  No timeline has been set but the work should be completed “shortly,” Santana added.
“While First Friends Church does not oppose the memorial honoring Mr. Ramos, we feel that Central Park is not an appropriate location,” Woirhaye said of the area donated to the city by Aquila Pickering, one of Whittier’s founders.
“Quakers are best known for peace testimony, a belief in pacifism and nonviolent resolution to conflict,” he said. “By graphically depicting guns, helicopters and actions of war that are diametrically opposed to Quaker pacifist philosophy this memorial represents the exact opposite of the founders’ intent in granting this land to the people of Whittier for future generations.”
Woirhaye asked the city to consider other locations, such as:
–The U.S. Post Office on Michigan Avenue, which will bear his name;
–Near the Whittier Museum where a permanent exhibition of Mr. Ramos resides;
–The Greenway Trail; or
–Outside City Hall.
The Central Park location was approved by the City Council in November 2020 after eight meetings of the City Council and several commissions.
The project also didn’t need a certificate of appropriateness to ensure that any alteration to a historic resource is in keeping with its historic character and does not degrade its integrity because the Whittier code exempts any city project, City Manager Brian Saeki said.
In addition, city officials surveyed the surrounding area from Nov. 16-22 in 2020 and had a life-sized rendering of art piece displayed for residents to comment on, Saeki said.
Councilman Henry Bouchot asked that a city historical consultant consider the comments from church members and the Whittier Conservancy.
But Councilman Fernando Dutra said he didn’t think that would change anything.
“‘Would we say we’ve gone seven to eight meetings and now we’re going to throw that process away because somebody doesn’t like the way it looks? Dutra asked.
“We’ve gone through the process,” he said. “He is kind of a city hero. There are a lot of veterans who appreciate what he did. He loved peace which is why he did what he did so that we could have peace. It would be a complete disservice to Jose, his family, his legacy, his family if we were to pause it and not continue on.”
Central Park was the site where Ramos began his two cross-country rides to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress and is where his family wants the memorial to go, Mayor Joe Vinatieri said at the November 2020 meeting.
Deanna Woirhaye, during a Thursday telephone call, said she is disappointed with the council’s repsonse and complained the church wasn’t notified about the project at the park.
“They didn’t tell us anything about it, especially since the land was given from Quakers,” Woirhaye said.
 
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