Heartland Youth For Decency

Vietnam War Memorial Restoration Fund



The Heartland Youth for Decency Vietnam Memorial Park is located next to the La Mesa American Legion 282 (J.A. Park Memorial Building 1947) in La Mesa, California, a city known as the Jewel of the Hills. The Memorial Park is a place where family, friends and the public can come and sit on the grass and park benches to remember men and women who gave their lives for this country. The memorial park is dedicated to veterans who were living in Southern California's Heartland area (consisting of the communities of La Mesa, Spring Valley, Jamul, Lemon Grove, El Cajon, Santee, and Lakeside) when they accepted the call to military service, during which service they gave their lives in the Vietnam War.


The Vietnam Memorial was built by a group called Heartland Youth for Decency back in 1970. The group was started by Ellis and Virginia Evers, and chaired by their daughter, Denise, and included high school and college students from La Mesa and surrounding areas.This group was involved in many community service projects, the largest and most visible being the monument. The main purpose was to honor those who died in Vietnam, during a most difficult and trying time for our country. Of note, the La Mesa monument was among the first built in the United States honoring Vietnam War dead. The monument was built with mostly volunteer labor as well as donations from businesses and individuals. Orest Zalopany, a very busy stone mason contractor, donated his time in the actual construction of the monument.


Over the years, the monument has come to need restoration, due to the ravages of time as well as vandalism, including tagging and stolen bronze plaques. Oresta Zalopany Johnson, daughter of the stone mason who built the monument, contacted Denise Evers Rhoads and the two have collaborated on the restoration over the past year. They have worked along with the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 472 San Diego and the American Legion Post 282 to revitalize and restore the monument and the surrounding area. Much has been accomplished, but much more needs to be done.

Renovations Finished

Planned Renovations/Additions

How You Can Help

With your donations we can restore this memorial to reflect the beauty it represents. Renovations are ongoing and donations are accepted at any time.

Donations can be made by sending a check to:
VVA 472
P.O Box 1804
La Mesa, CA 91944
Checks should be made out to: VVA 472 - memo to read "Heartland Youth for Decency Vietnam Memorial Fund".

All donations are tax-deductible and a receipt will be provided.

Contact Information:

Denise Evers Rhoads

Oresta Johnson


Flag Day June 14, 2014 was a Huge Success!

The Daily Californian estimated that there were 400 people in attendance.  Article here.

Looking Back

Spring 1970 - HYFD Members Working on Monument

Monument Dedication - Flag Day, June 14th, 1970
HYFD Members Placing Monument Sign Oct 1970