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July 21, 2008 - Dan Voigt
I got the opportunity to take a day off last Friday after the State Softball Tournament consolation games were cancelled, so I took on a couple of projects at home that had been put off for awhile. A little before noon, I got a call from the office - “the police made arrests in the statue vandalism, three nine and 10-year olds.” My first reaction was “Great, I’m glad that those responsible have been caught and will be held accountable for what they did.” But as the day wore on, I kept thinking about the whole incident, and I kept coming up with more questions in my mind. Like so many of you, the first question continues to be “Why?” That is a good question. Why? Why did three youngsters feel that they needed, or had to tip over three of the four statues? Was is some kind of protest against the war? Our government? Were they upset with our local veterans, or perhaps an individual associated with the Veterans Memorial? Or was is just because they were bored and felt the need to have some excitement in their lives? Good questions, and they led to even more questions - like what were they doing out at midnight, without supervision? That leads to the question of where were the parents or guardians of these youths? Did they have any idea of where their children were at? Who they were with? What they were doing? Lately, there have been numerous news reports around the state where drivers arrested for Operating While Intoxicated have also been charged with Child Endangerment because there were children in the vehicles when the drivers were arrested. Could something like that be possible in this situation? Could parents or guardians be charged with child endangerment? If one of those statues had toppled onto one of the youths, injuring them, you can take it to the bank, there would have been some kind of lawsuit filed for the injuries. I played all those lines of questions out in my mind, and yet even more thoughts surfaced. So what happens next to these youngsters? They have been referred to the juvenile court system, as prescribed by law, but will anything happen? Will they be required to make restitution for the loss? Will they have to apologize, in person, to the veterans who worked so hard to develop the memorial? Will they have to apologize to the community as a whole? Granted, the idea of the juvenile court system is to try and address the transgressions of young people, with the hopes of getting the offenders back onto the straight and narrow. But, knowing how overloaded the court system and the juvenile justice systems are these days, one has to wonder if the case could get lost in the shuffle. This whole incident was so very sad, not only for the veterans, but in a way, for those who did the damages. The disrespect to our veterans is hard enough to swallow. But the fact that children were the perpetrators is even harder to accept. Sadly enough, in this case, it seems to be a case of innocence lost, and that’s sad as well. --by Dan Voigt
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