The nation is on a well-deserved trend of honoring and commemorating its fallen members of the armed forces in many ways. It has named its streets, its parks, its public buildings and very notably, in a more personal approach; that of covering entire walls of buildings and other structures with the facial impressions of those that served, and many who died, in that service to their country with murals.
The Elsa VFW Post # 7473, or more specifically known as the Benito Alaniz Post and the city of Elsa EDC have ventured into a project to paint the entire south wall of their VFW building located at the corner of N. Broadway and 8th street with a memorial military mural. This mural will feature the likeness of twenty former area residents that gave their lives in service to their country during their tours of duty in the armed forces. These individuals and their service affiliations are listed on a plaque sitting at the VFW Memorial Park. Also included on the painting is a commemoration of a young female soldier Pvt Rosa Martinez, that was violently murdered in a non-combat incident that occurred while completing her life’s dream of becoming a career solder. The incident that took her life was so drastically similar to the recent occurrence of that of the murder by a fellow soldier of Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood. The post is planning a separate more detailed homage of her life story in the near future. Other items included in the mural will be numerous depictions of the military branches with their insignias, a battleship, an armed tank and several military aircraft.
The Benito Alaniz Post was established in 1968 and is named after one of the early casualties of the Vietnam War. It is headed by Commander Rosendo Castaneda, a two-tour veteran of the Vietnam War and a retired valley police officer, as well as immediate past commander Lupita M. Perez, one of a very few members of female VFW commanders and a member of the initial group of females permitted into active combat during the Iraq conflict. This post has been selected to receive numerous meritorious state and national awards during their leadership, to include all-state and all-American honors, as well as the prestigious National Community Service award that recognizes the individual membership for their community service contributions.
The mural itself is being drawn and painted by Ben and Anna Varela, a husband and wife team of local artists that have a number of mural works and paintings in the valley. Anna is a local product and Ben comes from a New York Puerto Rican military family that traveled extensively during his youth training in the mural art trade in the process.
The mural is anticipated to be completed by mid-May.
This type of project is the first of its kind for Elsa, but EDC director Jessica Garza is enthusiastic about having future mural works. “This is a long-overdue recognition of our veterans. Our residents are very excited over it. We’re going to try to touch base with our history, our schools and many other aspects of our community that need to be highlighted. This is just step one. We’re not done yet” she stated.