Iraq war memorial vandalized

A local memorial built to honor lives lost in the war in Iraq has been vandalized four times in the past week, prompting only muted response from city officials and Yale students, most of whom seemed aware of the monument’s existence.

The memorial — a pile of stones that represent every month of the Iraq War, with each stone inscribed with the number of U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths in a particular month — is located on the Broadway triangle, across from Ivy Noodle and next to the Civil War Monument.

The Iraq war memorial, which was dedicated last December, has been vandalized four times in the past week.
Blair Benham-Pyle
The Iraq war memorial, which was dedicated last December, has been vandalized four times in the past week.

Stephen Kobasa, a member of Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice, the private organization that built the memorial, said a stone was stolen from the site. In addition, a sign explaining the features of the memorial was torn down Saturday, Sunday and Monday, he said.

The chair of the New Haven Parks Board, David Belowsky, said he was unaware of the vandalism. But he added that vandalism is upsetting to the Parks Department.

“We were concerned about the memorial being vandalized.” Belowsky said. “It’s a tough part of town, though.”

The city of New Haven allowed the private group to build the memorial on public property, but the city is not responsible for the memorial, City Spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said.

“It’s a terrible act for anyone to vandalize a public structure, and we will do all we can to find the people responsible,” Mayorga said.

The chief of the New Haven Police Department Investigative Services Division could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Solutions for preventing future incidents of vandalism may be limited, Kobasa said.

“We don’t want to encircle the memorial with barbed wire,” he said. “We are only trying to remember the dead.”

Unless the stones are used to vandalize other property, such as cars, there is little reason to involve the police more directly, Kobasa said.

He said members of Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice were both angered and saddened by the damage done to the memorial.

“Even if this vandalism was an indifferent prank, it is just as unnerving as an act of deliberate malice,” Kobasa said. “An indifferent prank means the people didn’t realize what the memorial represents.”

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice group plans to add a new stone on Monday, in addition to replacing the stone that was stolen, he said. The group also plans to secure the explanatory sign, which has been stolen numerous times, and attach it more permanently.

Of the more than 30 Yale students interviewed, most said they were either unfamiliar with the memorial or had never seen it. Student reactions ranged from puzzlement as to why anyone would steal a stone to suspicion that an individual or a group took the rock as a random prank.

But most said they think the vandalism is troublesome and disrespectful to those who have died in Iraq.

“It’s a disturbing trend in our culture, that people don’t stop to think about how this could dishonor people,” Rek LeCounte ’11 said.

The memorial was dedicated last December.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    While I would never condone its vandalism, it's a wonder that this semi-permanent protest vehicle was ever sanctioned as a "memorial". It is a death counter, offering no substantive honor to the memory of those killed.

  • Anonymous

    A real war memorial honors the service and sacrifice of our vets, it does not use their deaths to make a political statement. Ask an average vet what he thinks of this pile of rocks.

  • Anonymous

    I think #2 meant to say that a real memorial is only allowed to make political statements that he agrees with.

  • Anonymous

    Believe it or not, a memorial is supposed to be honor those it claims to memorialize. It is not supposed to be about the political beliefs of those who are erecting it. If you want to have a protest, that is fine, but do not attempt to cloak it with legitimacy by claiming it is a "War Memorial."

  • Anonymous

    Erm, since when was the Broadway triangle a "tough part of town?"
    Are you going to get mugged by the rabid staff of Cutler's or subject to a drive-by by disgruntled ABP staffers? I think not.

  • a concerned patriot

    @ Posters 1,2, and 4: While I have never served in the military and have absolutely no idea what they have to say about all this, I know in my heart that you all are so clearly right. That heap of rocks is clearly not a memorial to be honored, let alone respected as an attempt to honor war heroes. Likewise, the Vietnam War memorial (which, incidentally, was designed by an Eli) is not a legitimate memorial, but rather an offensive, politically charged slate of rock. It just tells the names of people who died, like a death namer--surely not so different from a "death counter". And, considering that DC's WWII memorial was constructed (with expedited congressional approval) over land that was traditionally used for protests clearly evidences the political bias that disqualifies it as anything worthy of being respected, let alone called a memorial.

    I'm so glad that you see things so clearly and reasonably. Our troops would be so proud. We should tear down all these "memorials" that so dishonor our service men and women with their tawdry and obvious political sentiments of hippie peaceniks.

    #3: It's not that we have to agree with the views expressed. Rather, think of it as ensuring that the views agree with us to be called memorials and thus avoid the nuisance of otherwise warranted dissent and possible vandalizing. Surely, that's not so unreasonable.

  • Jack L

    To #6: Well I am a vet. This is not a "war memorial" it is an anti-war protest. I'm always amazed at college students who seem to think sarcasm somehow makes them sound smarter. It doesn't. It makes you sound like a petulant child. Perhaps if you had served your country you would show more respect for those who have sacrificed.

    As for the Vietnam Memorial, it is a beautiful and respectful memorial built long after the end of the war. It is not a pile of rocks set up by an anti-war protest group.