Back in September, I made arrangements to meet with Audrey Davis. She’s a member of the Southgate Garden Club, and a proud supporter of the club’s “Blue Star Memorial Marker,” which they had installed at Cascade View Park in Tukwila.
With Veterans Day coming up Nov. 11, Davis wanted to acquaint me with this marker. It is a nationally recognized way for local groups to acknowledge U.S. veterans, and she thought this would be a great local angle.
Well, when I got to that park Sept. 23, I was treated to something else: Davis looking dejectedly at a plaque that had been defaced with spray paint.
“It just kinda put me down, when I walked up and saw this,” she said, shaking her head.
“I could almost cry,” she added. “It makes me feel terrible. There is no respect here whatsoever. It’s like putting something on the U.S. flag, as far as I’m concerned.”
What’s frustrating is that this isn’t the first time the garden club’s plaque has been the subject of vandalism. When the club first raised $300 to buy it and have it installed in 2002, someone undid the bolts and made off with it.
“It hadn’t been in very long and they stole it,” Davis said.
The City of Tukwila stepped in and purchased a replacement for it. Some time later, the original plaque was found thrown in some bushes.
And for this latest act of vandalism, the city stepped in again, and cleaned off the paint.
“I think they did (remove the paint) the same day,” said Paul Surek, Tukwila Parks superintendent.
“We try to get it cleaned up in 24 hours,” he said, of graffiti calls.
I was supposed to be writing an article about this marker for the average reader. But this time I’m thinking more about the knucklehead with the spray-paint can, and anyone else who considers it funny to deface something that honors veterans. While our men and women are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, some of us apparently have nothing better to do than buy spray paint.
Here’s what they defaced: a metal sign that a group of local citizens saved their money for. This sign has maybe $6 of metal in it – it’s the symbolism that has value.
These signs were developed in acknowledgement of the 1917 Congressional Record statement: “The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother – their children.”
Taken from the service flags that hung in the windows of these parents during World War II, the Blue Star Marker project keeps that spirit of acknowledgement alive.
Veterans Day is coming up. If you happen to be near Cascade View Park, stop by the sign and think about what our servicemen and women are giving us, right now.
Their lives, for the freedoms we seem to forget.