"Arlington Midwest," an exhibit of white tombstones fashioned from wood, opened yesterday for its second display at the University of Toledo.
Sponsored by Veterans for Peace, the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition, and the UT department of women's and gender studies, the display was designed as a solemn place for people to remember those who died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Vandals, however, toppled all but 12 of the more than 2,000 tombstones, each of which bears the name of a soldier killed in the Middle East conflicts.
Irrespective of one's political views, this stupidity is an insult to the soldiers who died. I hope that the perpetrators are caught and severely punished; I am sickened at the level of hate that would cause someone (or someones) to destroy this moving tribute.
In a campus-wide letter condemning the actions of these vandals, UT President Dan Johnson weighed in:
A college campus is a place to exchange ideas in a positive and productive manner; and regardless of your opinion of the content or intentions of the display, this deplorable act of vandalism strikes directly at one of our institution's core values: freedom of expression.
Was the memorial organized by antiwar protesters? Yes.
Does this in any way minimize the contribution of these dead soldiers, or justify the desecration of this monument? Absolutely not.
It is my fervent hope that these disturbed cretins face public censure and an appropriate punishment for this cowardly act.