Respect seems as though it is harder and harder to come by, these days. The folks who care for the Stepping Stones of Honor Veterans Memorial at City Park are dealing with what may turn out to be a very expensive display of carelessness and disrespect that unfolded in the leadup to Fourth of July celebrations.
There may not be enough money in the Veterans Museum of the Mid-Ohio Valley’s budget to fix the more than 50 memorial bricks chipped, cracked and marked up by suspected skateboard or bicycle riders – or even those who simply plunked down lawn chairs with legs that damaged the brick. A brass sign nearby also is scratched and badly damaged, according to museum director and founder Gary Farris.
In other parts of the park, Farris and other volunteers found discarded food and drinks left on top of the American Legion World War II memorial.
At a time when many of us were thinking about the debt owed to the folks honored by these monuments, others were showing a disturbing level of ignorance and disrespect. And while cleanup of trash left by thoughtless individuals might be a relatively simple task, albeit one that requires more work by volunteers, finding the funds to repair the damage done to the Stepping Stones of Honor is another matter.
It is tempting to blame young people for this vandalism. And the skateboarders or bicyclists who left black marks on the bricks were likely kids. But responsibility lies with those who have not taught children to respect public property, let alone public memorials to our veterans. It also lies with the adults who saw the activity and did not say something, and even those who probably left their trash scattered around for someone else to handle.
Veterans Museum officials say it might cost more than $1,000 to repair the damage done. Somewhere out there are a few guilty parties whose donations would make a pretty nice start.