NEW LENOX) In an act being called a “slap in the face” to veterans, a southwest suburban veterans memorial was vandalized Saturday, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage in New Lenox.
Early Sunday morning, people walking the circle in the New Lenox Commons reported to police that four granite monuments had been pushed over, leaving only one standing, the SouthtownStar reports. There are five monuments, one for each branch of the military.
“These stones probably weigh a ton a piece, and they were set with stainless steel rods, so somebody really had to work to push them over,” said Larry Paveza, the quarter master at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Harry Anderson Post in New Lenox. “It’s a big slap in the face from whoever did that to us (veterans), it’s a big slap in the face, total disrespect.”
New Lenox Police Deputy Chief April Di Sandro said police believe they will be able to catch the person or persons involved because of fingerprints.
“We believe (the fingerprints) are from the location (where hands pushed the stones) and they are pretty fresh, so with any luck the person will be in the system,” Di Sandro said.
Paveza agreed with Di Sandro’s estimate that the stones may cost about $3,000 to $5,000 each to replace. The memorial was a joint effort that included a state grant, many volunteers and donations when it was installed in June 2004, Paveza said. He could not guess what the costs would be now, ten years later. Now that memorial, which is on village property, is considered “sacred ground,” he said. Veterans plan to meet with the mayor to determine how to repair the memorial.
“Obviously, we welcome any kind of donations because obviously it’s going to cost somebody something,” he said.
Deputy Chief Robert Pawlisz said he has received calls from as far away as Maryland from people who want to donate. A former Marine there said he heard about the destruction on social media and wants to help. Pawlisz said he’s received several similar calls already.
“Our police will use every resource to find and charge the degenerate or degenerates that desecrated this memorial that honors those that served our country,” Mayor Tim Baldermann said.
Di Sandro said they expect to have an answer on the fingerprints in about a week. There was no other reported damage in the area, and police believe the vandals used no other equipment, such as bikes or four-wheelers, to tip them over.
“I think it was shallow, cowardly and totally disrespectful,” Paveza said. “A lot of people gave their lives so the people who did it could walk around to be able to do it.”
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The VFW appreciates help to restore the memorial, please send donations to:
BMO Harris Bank
110 W. Maple Street
New Lenox, IL 60451
Attn: Veteran's Memorial Fund
or in-person at:
VFW Post 9545
323 Old Hickory Road
New Lenox, IL 60451
Attn: Quartermaster Larry Paveza