Community rallies to fix veterans memorial in ruins

Created: 03/12/2014 11:14 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

When an Albuquerque neighborhood saw a park meant to honor veterans falling into ruin, they banded together and tried to fix it.

Sometimes the way things are, isn't how it should be, and sometimes it's just a matter of someone standing yup and saying it.

Navy reservist Donny Johnson could hardly believe the condition of Soldiers and Sailors Park, located at 14th and Central in Albuquerque.

Dick Dieschel lives nearby the park. He says it wouldn't surprise him if people had no idea this place is meant to honor vets. A plaque saying so was stolen.

"It looked like it was more of an insult than a memorial," said Johnson.

Johnson and Dieschel both spend a lot of time downtown, and without even knowing it -- without ever meeting each other -- they have both been working to clean up this park.

Johnson's been out here to paint and even put up lights so the sun will never set on the American flag flying there.

"The rule is, if you don't bring the flag down every night, you have to have a light on it all the time," said Johnson.

Dieschel wrote the city asking for money. He just got $200 from the Bernalillo County Beautiful Streets Grant.

It's a start.

"Just replacing the plaque that was stolen is almost $1,000," said Dieschel.

So, along came a third guy.

"I am extremely proud of my constituents and my neighborhood," said New Mexico House of Representatives Majority Leader Rick Miera (D - Albuquerque).

Miera heard about the efforts and pledged to use his connections to find the extra money for the park.

"We're going to find the hundreds here, and the hundreds there and then we're going to collectively put the project together, and then we're going to maintain it," he said.

Sometimes things don't have to stay the way they are.

"We'll get this job done," said Dieschel. "Somehow some way."

The Downtown Neighborhood Association is matching the $200 from the grant.

Aside from donations, these community organizers hope to get volunteers to help them clean the park.

They hope to be done by June.

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