The recent acts of vandalism by two drunken jerks at our World War 2 Memorial at Forest Parkway has received a lot of media attention (see Queens Crap, the New York Daily News, and Eyewitness News for examples).
In the surveillance video released by the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, you see the two young men stumble along Forest Parkway, one of them falls to the ground, and then he gets up and removes the wreath and two flags from our memorial, which was erected in 1953.
The memorial contains the names of close to 100 young men who lost their lives in defense of this country during World War 2. Our community has honored their memory each year at Memorial Day services - and they are honored throughout the year by the monument being kept clean and adorned with flags and a wreath by the American Legion Post 118 and the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation.
The actions of these 2 jerks were shocking and received a lot of attention, with a few people saying how this is a sign of the times, or an indication that the community no longer cares.
However, such incidents of vandalism are not isolated to the present day. Here's a clipping from the Leader-Observer, February 1960, describing a terrible incident of vandalism along Forest Parkway in which yellow swastikas were painted on cars and on the very same memorial in the news this week.
In June 1965, Commander Louis Walz of American Legion Post 118 writes an open letter to the community of Woodhaven asking them to report any acts of vandalism and he goes on to note that flags have been stolen, the halyard has been destroyed -- several times -- and the trees and benches have been tagets of malicious vandals.
Later that year, a tree planted at our memorial was sawed in half --
The acts of vandalim against memorials were not limited to Forest Parkway. The memorial at Whiting Square was not spared as this article from 1974 illustrates. The ongoing vandalism at this location includes paint and burning and well as damaging benches.
Whiting Square was vandalized more recently, back in 2011 by some vile graffiti --
The graffiti was cleaned -- and, in time, all the white paint was removed and the rock restored to its original look (click here for before and after photos). The halyards were replaced, new trees planted, benches repaired -- in other words, we've survived acts of vandalism before and we'll survive this one.
During this week, while there was a lot of focus and attention of these two jerks, residents of Woodhaven were helping to gather food for homeless veterans - residents from Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park flooded Councilman Eric Ulrich's office with donations. Residents of Woodhaven also collected toys for the East Coast Car Association's Annual Toy Run to St. Mary's Hospital for Children. And residents have been donating food to Assemblyman Mike Miller's office for local food pantries.
There will always be jerks in Woodhaven -- but there will always be good people who will outnumber the bad.
To illustrate this, the members of the American Legion acted swiftly and replaced the memorial wreath in no time flat. Eyewitness News came out to file a live report Thursday afternoon and by the evening report, Channel 7's Stacey Stager was standing in front of a brand new wreath.
It was a simple gesture - but one that shows that we won't let the jerks take over, we won't give up, we won't tuck our tails between our legs and run away.
We've never let jerks like that define Woodhaven - and we're sure as hell not going to start now.