Victim Impact Statement – Grave Desecration of a Veteran

24 08 2013

I am a Chaplain for my local American Legion Post and was asked to make a Victim Impact Statement. The crime involved a man who stole a grave marker of a WWII vet and cut down a statue of a soldier in the veteran section of a local cemetery.  He cut up the statue and was able to collect $25 for drug money. It was an honor for me to fight for the honor of those who fought for me before I was even born. These are my remarks.

Pastor Dave

Thank you for opportunity for allowing American Legion Post 700 to make a victim impact statement prior to sentencing. We have followed the story and were outraged by the brazenness of the crime of one so ungrateful, selfish, and cowardly. The Mahoning Valley Memorial Park has a portion of its 8 1/2 acre property reserved for Veterans who succumb to their last battle. Standing watch over that portion of land was a lone statue of a soldier mounted on a marble base with a large brass plaque entitled “Old Glory”. Beneath this is a beautiful writing describing the love for our flag and the ones called upon to defend it.

We represent all moms and dads who ever greeted their son or daughter at an airport in a flag draped casket

We represent the sons and daughters who gave their dad an honorable burial because years ago they served their country with honor.

We represent Service Organizations whose members served on foreign soil in time of war. This group of men and women who honor the flag and all in which it stands, know the cost of war for the comrades they left behind and the ones who must live with the scars.

We represent all who ever put on the uniform of our nation.

We represent the veterans buried at Mahoning Valley Memorial Park who gallantly defended our country in time of need whose voices are now silent and have no means to defend themselves. We stand up to their defense.

He represents the cancer that is eating away at the very heart and soul of the United States of America, wanting to satisfy his own cravings at the cost of everything we hold sacred.

He represents those who compromise integrity and decency for a quick buck.

The word “desecration” fits the shame of the crime that he committed. It is defined as “the act of depriving something of its sacred character, or the disrespectful or contemptuous treatment of that which is held to be sacred or holy by a group or individual”. A cemetery should never be deprived of its sacred, reflective, and respectful atmosphere. He managed to violate what normal people consider to be sacred. The theft of a bronze marker given to veterans from a grateful nation creates yet another level of scum in which he occupies.

We ask the state legislature to draw a line in the sand against thieving opportunists like him and make the penalty of the crime more than just a slap on the wrist. We ask the court for the maximum possible sentence so that others who wish to follow his pathetic acts would take knowledge that we are watching and will not tolerate such acts of desecration on hallowed ground.

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