Sep 8, 2005

Arlington Midwest Vandalized On UT Campus


"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.


Anonymous said...

Liberal whiners. Go hang out with Cindy Sheehan.

Lisa Renee said...

I agree it shouldn't come to this, however I also don't support the idea of having names on the crosses. I feel it increases an already emotional situation.

Having the crosses symbolized without a name sends the same message yet does not create some of the personal angst that this whole war/anti-war discussion has caused that we did see happen in Crawford as well.

Was it appropriate to destroy the crosses? No, but it is also inappropriate to use the names of the dead as a pr tool on either side.

There is or was a roadside cross put up to remember a friend of my second to youngest daughter who was killed by a car. The township road crews constantly knocked it over when they plowed with no regard for it. Family or friends would put the display back up. Eventually the owners must have decided to no longer allow the cross there as it is now gone.

My point in sharing that is when the cross was plowed down or broken it was not a desecration of Jessica's memory. It was a mere symbol of love and rememberance that could be easily replaced. While of course these road crews were in all reality probably not even aware they had done this, as long as we remember those who are gone in our hearts the rest is not important.

Hooda Thunkit said...

The use of the victim’s names, without prior written permission of the surviving family members, is wrong.

The using of private individuals names for a public, political message as this is also wrong.

The vandalizing of a peaceful, yet mostly symbolic demonstration (protest, if you will) as this is, is both cowardly and highly offensive to most of us who can appreciate the message being sent and the messengers sending it.

Sadly, most of this message was wasted on humanity as a whole and the names displayed have already been forgotten.

Yet, life goes on…

historymike said...

Agreed on the use of the names of the soldiers; the display could be just as effective with blank tombstones.

Frank said...

Its an ugly time. Fortunately, events like this undercut Bush's gruesome excuse for a foreign policy. Here's why.

historymike said...

Thanks for the link, Frank.

I was opposed to this war from the beginning, just so people know my take on the matter. I will save my reasons for a future essay.

That being said, I understand that the "War on Terror" has substantial support from many Americans, and I respect their stance. I wish, however, that there could be an end to the bitterness that is dividing our nation.

I tire of anti-war protesters being labeled "terrorists," "terrorist sympathizers," or "traitors." Having been alive during Vietnam, I saw some of the same tactics used; I naively assumed that we had somehow "evolved" beyond this sort of viciousness.