By Leslie Collins
November 9, 2011
I stood, angry.
A U.S. veterans memorial had been vandalized.
Just a month ago, hundreds had gathered at Kansas City’s Washington Square Park Sept. 28 to watch the unveiling of the Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial.
Some had stood closely to the memorial searching for the names of friends, family or neighbors who sacrificed their lives in a war that soon became forgotten.
There were no parades or elaborate celebrations when the veterans returned home, one veteran said.
This was a war America wanted to forget and soon it became known as the “Forgotten War.”
Nearly 37,000 American service members died in that forgotten war, including more than 900 from Missouri. More than 8,000 are listed as missing in action.
So, it only deepened the wound that vandals chose to damage a memorial to U.S. veterans that had been ignored and pushed aside for so long.
I licked my finger, hoping to rub away the streaks that tarnished the metal engravings. But, the marks didn’t budge. Before me, were names faded and stripped away of their vibrancy not by age, but by people – people who failed to understand the sacrifice and the toiled labor of our service men and women.
The vandals didn’t understand. These were not just letters engraved into a wall. These were names, these were people who died while serving our country.
On the other side of the wall, a sloppy brown stain lingered on the cement, which I can’t imagine Mother Nature caused. Black skid marks lined the sidewalk and a portion of the polished structure was scuffed, thanks to skateboarders. They also stole a star emblem.
I wish they understood the meaning behind the memorial and could muster a little appreciation.
I hope some day they’re personally touched by war by knowing someone enlisted in the military or someone who’s crippled or someone who died fighting for freedom across the globe.
But, for now, I want to share my gratitude to all our veterans who have served and their families who also know the meaning of sacrifice. Thank you.
I challenge everyone to thank a veteran this Veterans Day and remember.
Remember the heartache. Remember your freedoms. Remember their unselfish sacrifice.