Port Alberni war grave markers destroyed
Published Tuesday, April 14, 2009 9:06PM PDT
Vandals have kicked to pieces 20 grave markers belonging to war dead and veterans at a Port Alberni, B.C., cemetery. The violence has devastated local veterans and their families.
Margaret Groeneveld, a service officer at the Royal Canadian Legion, said her father is buried in the cemetery. Although his gravesite was undamaged, she became emotional as she described the impact the broken crosses would have.
"I think it's terrible for the legion members. It's a horrendous thing to do, to have their place of rest defaced in this way," she said. "The vets defended our freedom and rights all over the world and it's on a day where another died in Afghanistan."
The Field of Honour section of the Greenwood Cemetery is the final resting place for approximately 500 soldiers who had fought in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The section is marked by a cenotaph, with each grave marked by a melamine cross and a name plate of the deceased veteran.
The markers were discovered destroyed on Monday, reducing some visiting veterans to tears as they surveyed the damage.
"They put on a uniform to go out and fight for this country and this is the response we get from some idiots? ...I don't know why these people did this," said Brian Thorburn, chairman of the cemetery, as he surveyed the damage.
"Take them to one of the Nazi concentration camps. let them see what people suffered, and why Canadians took up arms to correct that wrong. Might make them think again."
Groeneveld believes the attack was the work of young people "with nothing better to do and no respect," who go into the cemetery at night to drink and loiter.
"I just don't know what kind of enjoyment they get out of it," she said.
The Field of Honour was established as a place for veterans of armed conflicts from the Alberni Valley to be honoured and buried.
Sgt. Lee Omilusik of the Port Alberni RCMP said the damaged crosses were beyond repair. There was no damage to any other part of the cemetery, he said.
He called the attack "ludicrous."
"It's detrimental to what we do every year on Remembrance Day. The members who took the call were pretty upset that someone would do this," he said.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Leah Hendry.