Members of American Legion Post 184 put a lot of time and emotion into the 9-11 memorial that draws visitors to this day to the site at 744 Gravel Pike in Palm.
It took vandals just minutes to desecrate that memorial and other Legion property during the overnight hours of June 26-27.
According to state police, Skippack barracks, a white chain fence surrounding the 9-11 memorial, which included a large steel beam that fell from one the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan Sept. 11, 2001, was cut by the vandals, but according to Legion representatives, the damage was much more extensive.
Dale Miller, president of the Legion home association, said Monday that an outdoor pavilion and kitchen area was also vandalized. Miller said walls and kitchen equipment were spray-painted. The vandals also threw rocks into the Legion’s van, used, among other things, to transport veterans to doctor’s appointments. The van sustained a broken windshield and several side windows.
Miller, who noted he’s been too angry to return to the site since the crime, said the chains cut from the memorial were thrown into the Perkiomen Creek behind the Legion building.
Other Legion members said the memorial itself was also spray-painted on the back. Aside from profanity condemning freedom, the vandals reportedly painted anarchy symbols. The rear of the memorial has been painted over already, according to reports.
But state police, thanks to video surveillance at the memorial, will soon be analyzing surveillance footage, which Miller said shows what looks to be five young people committing the crime at approximately 3:30 a.m.
“They’re going to get caught,” Miller said. “State police have a couple of leads…They [the vandals] just have no respect for what we try to do, for what the monument is there for. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into that thing.”
Legion member Ray Bentley of Hereford said he feels the same.
“It’s highly disrespectful of the Legion Post, veterans and the people who died in 9-11,” he said. “This was built for them and to have somebody just come in and trash it is just wrong.”
In the mean time, Miller said talks will continue on how to fix the damage. He said he believes the van insurance will cover the broken windshield and windows, aside from a deductible, and members should be able to volunteer their time to paint over much of the spray paint.
Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call Tpr. Thomas Sanders, PA State Police, Skippack barracks, at (610)410-3835.