"There are heroes among us." Roger and Leila Oliveira, owners of the Center Café, 36 Woodside Ave., are bringing to life that quote with their "Wall of Heroes" at the coffee shop/restaurant.
In this section of the Café, the Oliveiras recognize 20 Winthrop residents for their service to the country.
Each veteran that served in World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War has his own distinctive plaque containing a personal photo, an American flag, and information chronicling his military affiliation and years of service.
The idea for the tribute developed after Roger Oliveira talked with some of his early-morning regulars and learned of their military service.
“All these guys come every day for their coffee in the morning and they always talk about their service during the war and how proud they are of what they did for their country,” said Oliveira, who grew up in Brazil and came to the United States in 1994. “I wanted our customers to be able to appreciate the heroism and bravery that these men represent in our community.”
Oliveira said he was overwhelmed by the reaction of the veterans on the day he unveiled the project.
“I could tell the appreciation they had for the “Wall” and how proud they were, but I was the one who appreciated what they had done for the country and how they have supported my business,” said Oliveira, whose restaurant celebrated its first anniversary on October 19.
Oliveira said he will add more veterans’ plaques to the wall and hopes to meet residents who are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Oliveira thanked public relations consultant Michelle Bishop for her assistance with the project. Bishop wrote the biographical information for the individual tributes and helped coordinate the project with the Oliveiras.
“Michelle was the first person that I shared this idea for the wall with, and she supported me and helped make it happen,” said Oliveira.