Memorial Champion and City Clerk Gene Glasco named Congressional Volunteer of the Year by Congresswoman Chu
By Galen Patterson
Two days before the nation recognized the fallen servicemen of America’s past, City Clerk Gene Glasco was in the park at the heart of Arcadia; paying yet another tribute to the fourteen Arcadian servicemen who became casualties in Vietnam.
Chairs were set up in expectance of a sizeable crowd and by the time the ceremony was underway, the chairs were full, and people were standing in the back and along the sides.
Members of the Chinatown post of the American Legion, a veteran’s organization and the chapter to which Glasco has belonged since the Arcadia chapter folded due to lack of funds and memberships, attended and took part in the ceremony.A veteran Chaplain prayed over the ceremony as a Peacock called in the distance and the sun soon set on the crowd. Free glow sticks had been distributed earlier in expectation of oncoming darkness. Speakers were given gifts and fiber optic glow wands. With flood lights on the nearby flags, the crowd sat in the last moments of sunlight until the glow sticks became visible, but their faces were not.
Among noteworthy attendees were interim Mayor Peter Amundson, along with Councilwoman April Verlato, California State Assembly members Ed Chau and Mike Eng, and Congresswoman Judy Chu.
Chu, Chau, and Amundson spoke at the ceremony. Congresswoman Chu recognized Glasco for his perseverance of the memorial, saying he took the structure “from a sketch on a paper towel to the 22,000 lbs. monument we see today.” Chu then named Glasco Congressional Volunteer of the Year.
After the speeches, Glasco took the podium and performed a solemn, nearly thousand-year-old ceremony often seen at military memorials: the ringing of the bell. Glasco called out the names of the fallen Arcadians and the dates they officially became a casualty. After each name, a nearby bell was rung. Glasco read the names of two men and mentioned they had been classmates before they were killed in their prime.
Aside from the peacocks and passing cars, not a sound was heard during the bell ringing. Immediately afterward, Glasco assured everyone that the moment they had been waiting for had come.
Panels were removed, revealing the lights that had been so important to the memorial. The representative from Mammoth Electric of Anaheim flipped the switch and the monument was bathed in red, white, and blue lighting.
This moment was the culmination of a long and frustrating journey. “I’ve been living here the past week,” Glasco jokes. When the lights had initially been installed they did not work. It took crews working into the night for nearly a week before the lights were properly fixed The entire installation took two weeks. Since the installation was happening on County property, the county was also demanding updates, which Glasco had to answer to, adding pressure to an already stressful project.
“[The monument] represents peace and closure, not just for my brother, but all who died in the Vietnam War,” a family member of the fallen told Arcadia Weekly.
Now, the fully functional lights are controlled remotely, from Glasco’s phone. They will last decades, change to any color imaginable and rotate on a 10 degree axis. They will cast intense light on the monument, hopefully deterring park dwellers from desecrating the monument at night; they will be a reminder of the man whose crusade made both the lights and the monument possible, and most importantly, they will remind Arcadians of their 14 neighbors lost in a war long ago and far away.