Zeferino and Julia Ramirez: Creating a War Memorial
Known as the “Morin War Memorial” or more simply the “Los Cincos Puntos Memorial”, it was originally dedicated to the Americans of Mexican descent killed in World War II. A thankful and appreciative community who saw fit to honor their local heroes established the monument on May 30, 1947. Today, the Memorial contains two plots honoring Mexican American veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Together, these two memorials, the Morin Square Memorial and War Memorial give great accolade to the powerful presence of the veteran community in East Los Angeles.
Since 1947, the veterans’ memorial has been a figure of pride for the East Los Angeles community. The obelisk shaped monument is located where the city limits meet the county line, where Cesar E. Chavez, Lorena and Indiana streets intersect. On the eve of Memorial Day, volunteers stand guard every year for 24 hours until the morning of the national holiday.
Two of the people to play an important part in getting the memorial established were Zeferino Ramirez and his daughter, Julia. Julia Ramirez was born August 18th, 1910 in the Torreon Municipality of Coahuila, Zaraboa, Mexico to Zeferino and Marcos Ramirez. She was their third child, born after her siblings, Jose and Grace. Zeferino and Marcos brought their family to the United States in 1911, just a year after Julia’s birth. He worked as a mortician, running his own mortuary within less than ten years. His business was located at 4545 Brooklyn Avenue and bought an ad for his funeral home in the 1927 Garfield High School yearbook. It is the only ad in Spanish, stating, We’ll take care of you - the funeral house of Zeferino Ramirez - and get promptness, savings, elegance, true service - The first house established in Los Angeles - From 1919
Zeferino Ramirez was known as a community leader in the Belvedere Gardens (East Los Angeles) area and Julia attended Garfield High School the first two years of its existence (1925-1927). Her name appears in the Student Body Business Organization as Secretary (p.41, 1926 yearbook).
As World War II ended in 1945, Julia convinced her father, Zeferino to help with the development of a war memorial honoring the many Mexican American soldiers killed. He formed a committee that won over the Los Angeles City Council to the importance of the endeavor. Eventually, Zeferino Ramirez contributed his own money, $4,000, to the final construction costs of the monument.
In 1947, Julia and Zeferino Ramirez and other members of the Latin American Civic and Cultural Committee accomplished what they had set out to do -- the memorial site was achieved. In 1968, twenty one years later, the area where the memorial stands was named “Morin Memorial Square” in honor of Raul Morin. A co-founder of the local American Legion Post 804, he assisted Julia and Zeferino Ramirez and the Latin American Civic and Cultural Committee in establishing the memorial site. He was an important community organizer and author of Among the Valiant: Mexican Americans in World War II and Korea.