As y’all know, I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. So Monday night was a traumatic event, speaking of the college football national championship game between Alabama and Georgia. I know, y’all are sayin’ but Col, you went to the University of Tennessee, yep, and the only time I cheer against Georgia is when they’re playing against the Volunteers. I will say this, what an incredible game, truly Georgia gave us two college football playoff games that are classics. The only good thing coming out of Bama’s victory is that Tennessee gets the defensive coordinator of Alabama, Jeremy Pruitt, as our new head football coach — no more Kim Jung Un jokes.
And no more jokes period, because what happened recently in my home state of Georgia is far more traumatic and disconcerting than the loss to Bama.
As reported by Fox News, “A war memorial in Georgia dedicated to those who served this country is facing some costly repairs after extensive damage was done by vandals last month.
Watch the latest video at foxnews.com
The Walk of Heroes War Veterans Memorial in Conyers faced an estimated $200,000 in repairs after four people broke into the memorial park located about 25 miles outside of Atlanta on Dec. 15 and used tools and tree branches to pry multiple bronze pieces from their mounts.
“When I got to the site, I felt like I was coming to a funeral,” Darin Riggs, a board member for the memorial, told FOX 5 Atlanta. “It was just heart wrenching for me. It just was not pleasant to come out here that day.”
The Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office said three people have been arrested so far in connection with the desecration of the site. On Tuesday, authorities in Union City arrested Bryan Loys Sears, 25, of Weatherford, Texas and charged him with criminal trespass and felony theft by taking. Deputies previously arrested Keshia Martin Black, 42, of Newnan and Wendall Tolbert, 51, of Taylorsville. Investigators have obtained a warrant for a fourth suspect, but would not release that person’s name.
“This case has taken us to Union City, Coweta County, and Meriweather County,” Rockdale County Sheriff Eric J. Levett said in a statement. “We want to make sure that we send this message to the remaining suspect. This was a terrible crime. This was disrespectful to many men and women who sacrifice their lives each and every day and have sacrificed their lives in the past for our country.”
This happened not far from where I grew up in Atlanta. One of the things I grew up proud about as a Georgian was the rich and incredibly powerful sense of military history in the Peach State. When I received orders to attend Airborne and Jumpmaster School after completing my Field Artillery Officer’s Basic Course, my heart swelled with joy and pride knowing I was returning back to my home state, to Ft. Benning, to learn how to exit an aircraft while in flight.
As a little boy, my dad had taken me over to watch airborne jumps, as he grew up just south of Ft. Benning in Cuthbert, Georgia. Georgia is a state that boasts many military bases. I saw the rollout of the C-5A cargo plane at Dobbins AFB north of Atlanta. And in Georgia, many a young man and woman dream of growing up and serving the nation in uniform…and many retire there as well. That’s why this happening in Georgia is very alarming.
Is this the current state of our culture, our society? We have all these slogans regarding our men and women in uniform and our veterans, but as a nation, do we truly believe and embrace what we say? Or has, “thank you for your service” just become empty rhetoric?
Who sits back and thinks about breaking into a veterans memorial and vandalizing it? Well, I suppose that’s a rhetorical question since we have those who believe disrespecting our flag and national anthem is just part of their freedom of expression. What road are we on in America?
The individuals responsible for vandalizing this veterans memorial should face the absolutely harshest punishment possible. For me, this isn’t some simple misdemeanor offense; it’s a felony crime. There’s a clear message that needs to be sent, and yes, even to those who have vandalized Civil War memorials, any testimony to our history…this will not be tolerated. If we take a low road and allow this to be deemed as simple expressions, then we are on the road to losing that special sense of who we are as Americans…and respect to those who were willing to give that last full measure of devotion to this great nation.
Reading this story just disgusted me, and to be honest, I do feel like smacking the mess out of these individuals who’ve been charged. I think they should be lined up in front of World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans, and made to apologize before being hauled off to jail. I truly believe that if you vandalize and violate a veteran’s memorial in America, you should lose some basic civil rights of this nation. If you disrespect the memory of those who made it possible to have these rights, then perhaps you need not have them.
Of course, folks will call this extreme, but what do you call leaving your family to serve your nation? I call that sacrifice, commitment and devotion — something we all should NEVER take for granted. And placing your life in harm’s way? Now that folks is extreme, extreme love…as in John 15:13.
The message needing to be sent all over America is we do have articles and objects that we hold dear. Things that embody who we are as an American people…and one of those objects is OUR memorials to OUR veterans. If you believe contrary, fine, keep it to yourself. You can express it verbally, but if you denigrate or vandalize OUR tributes to OUR veterans, suffer the utmost consequences.
[Learn more about Allen West’s vision for this nation in his book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom]