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The Buzz: CalVet relaunches campaign to restore El Soldado memorial

Fund to fix Latino statue

finds a $50,000 benefactor

Now 63 years old, El Soldado is looking a little worse for wear: The barrel of his weapon is broken, the strap of his helmet is missing, and he has cracks and mold on his back.

So after years of unsuccessful efforts to repair the Mexican American Veterans Memorial – the formal name for the statue across from the Capitol honoring Latinos who served in the armed services – the California Department of Veterans Affairs is initiating another push to fund the project.

Friday, the memorial committee accepted a $50,000 donation from Wells Fargo. “This is our first big donation and really kicks off the cycle,” said Mirtha Villarreal, the department’s deputy secretary for minority veterans and head of the memorial committee. “We are working aggressively” to finish the restoration next year.

El Soldado was originally constructed in 1951, after a fundraising drive by a group of Mexican American women that included church raffles and selling homemade tamales. Efforts to repair the statue have been long delayed; last month, the governor signed legislation extending the fundraising deadline by another two years.

– Alexei Koseff

Worth repeating

“That’s a silly statement.”

ADAM MENDELSOHN, former communications director for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, after GOP gubernatorial nominee Neel Kashkari said Schwarzenegger “needed to be loved.”