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Purple Heart Monument at Palm Coast’s Heroes Park Is Slammed Over in an Act of Vandalism

| November 24, 2010

Stephen Lunsford standing by the inexplicable at Heroes Park Wednesday afternoon. (© FlaglerLive)

Stephen Lunsford was livid. He had trouble finding his words. He’d cross his arms. Uncross them. Pace. Shake his head. In front of him was the Purple Heart monument Lunsford’s chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart–Chapter 808–had dedicated on Sept. 28 at Palm Coast’s Heroes Park.

The monument, a huge, heavy, granite stone about five feet wide, four feet high and almost a foot thick, had been pushed over. No act of nature could have done this. There hasn’t even been any acts of nature to speak of in the last many days in the city–no high winds, no freaky weather.

“This isn’t an accident. A breeze didn’t blow this over. A strong wind didn’t blow it over,” Lunsford said, “and certainly somebody leaning against it didn’t knock it over. It had to be a deliberate and malicious act of vandalism.”

Just last Saturday, Lunsford was at the park with two other Vietnam Marines, Jeff Puritis and L.C. Bruce, with whom he’s taken to going to Heroes Park to sit and reflect on occasion. The monument was fine then. A Palm Coast utilities employee reported it pushed over to Bill Butler, Palm Coast’s landscape architect, this morning (Nov. 24). A Flagler County Sheriff’s Office investigation was launched.

“This isn’t a very frequented park like other parks that we have, it’s mostly ceremonies and things,” Butler said. “So it’s likely there wasn’t anybody here for three days. Our park crews come, but they usually come on a weekly basis.”

Video: Vandalism at Heroes Park
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“It’s not that I can understand things. Things just don’t surprise me,” Lunsford said. “This surprise me. I don’t know why anybody would desecrate a monument that’s been erected for the gallant and honorable men and women of this country who sacrificed at least their blood and at most their lives. And they’re just average run-of-the-mill people. They’re not politicians, they’re not in it for the glory. They go out thinking that they’re going to do something right and they pay more often than not the ultimate sacrifice. Keep in mind that the Purple Heart–nobody wants to receive this medal.”

Lunsford pauses, overcome. “Nobody wants to receive the medal. It’s a…” He pauses. “This isn’t about us who have formed the military of the purple heart chapter. This is about our brothers that didn’t come home, whether it’d be World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and then the conflicts over the last more than a decade in the Middle East. This is about them. This is paying homage to them.”

Lunsford himself has three Purple Hearts. Rick Look, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s chief deputy and commander of Chapter 808, the recipient of two Purple Hearts, was traveling to be with family for Thanksgiving.

The monument hasn’t been seriously damaged, other than some scratches and coming off its base, where cement that had been applied there seemed not to have had much of an effect. In order not to damage the monument further, the city won’t move it until the company that installed it is able to come to the park, the week after Thanksgiving, to reset it. “What their plan is is to drill through the base and the sign and put some rebar in there and epoxy those and then set it so it’ll be impossible to push over again, and they’re going to do it at no cost to the city,” Butler said.

The stone is at least a couple of tons. It would have taken a willful, strenuous effort to push it over. None of the park’s other monuments or trees, many of which have been planted to commemorate the military and other institutions, were not touched. Nor did there appear to be anything else out of the ordinary at the small park, which is located on Palm Parkway just west of the Flagler County Library.

Chapter 808 was established in Flagler County a little over two years ago. The organization honors all those who’ve received Purple Hearts and their families, and raises money for scholarships.

“It doesn’t surprise me when a kid throws a rock through a window,” Lunsford said. “It doesn’t surprise me when somebody commits an act of burglary or armed robbery. Unfortunately that’s an unfortunate fact of life here. This bothers me. This bothers me, it bothers all my brothers in my military order of the Purple Heart Chapter 808 in Palm Coast. It bothers all of us. And it bothers us because we’re still alive. Our brothers aren’t. And this is our way of paying homage to them, saying we’ll never forget. There’s not a day goes by that any of us don’t think about our comrades that didn’t come home.”

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office at 386/313-4911 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-277-8477.

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15 Responses for “Purple Heart Monument at Palm Coast’s Heroes Park Is Slammed Over in an Act of Vandalism”

  1. Ralph Belcher says:

    Woe to the soul that will have to face the interrogation of Chief Look! It’s a matter of time, you will be found.

  2. County Worker says:

    The scumbags that did this need to have there finger nails ripped off. There is no excuse for this kind of act.

  3. Laura says:

    Very few things are sacred (entitled to reverence & respect) anymore
    because it is rarely taught
    that some things

    Our community now knows a different kind of comrade.
    These new comrades sacrifice
    and there is no language of kindness
    on their lips
    or in their hearts.

    {{* *}}

  4. Haw Creek Girl says:

    sorry a*&! Mot*)er F7#@*rs need to be taught some respect

  5. W.Ryan says:

    This is horrible! Thank goodness the damage is minor.

  6. Jim Neuenfeldt says:

    I hope whoever did this, can “MAN UP” and admit their mistake. The members of the community and the MOPH deserve a little respect for what they have given to your freedoms already. They should not have to endure this.

    Hopefuly we as a community won’t be forced to lock this place up so it won’t be vandalized any more.
    People should have the opportunity to go when they want to and respect those that have given so much.

    Hero’s Park is about the men and women this community have lost, who gave so much as veterans, firefighters, policeofficers and more. We as parents need to pass on to our children just how wrong this was, and move who ever is responsible to step forward and fix this.

    Community service hours at the park would be a good start.

  7. DLF says:

    This was done by someone who cares not about their freedom or what the cost has been. However, on the other hand when the leader of the USA does not respect the cost of freedom or the people who protect it, what can you expect.?

  8. Barbara Taylor says:

    How true DLF, And lets not forget the latest member of the Supreme Courts feeling toward the military. The day will come when these types of memorials will have to come down by order of the the government. It’s only a matter of time before political correctness takes this memorial and many others away!

  9. howard huge says:

    sad that this happened…trying to somehow spin this onto the President shows just how warped some ideologues are

  10. Kyle Russell says:

    DLF… really? Really? Being against a war does not mean that one is against the men and women involved in the conflict itself. I’m 17 and can see that you’re only acting childish.

  11. PC MAN says:

    Kyle Russell don’t try talking sense to the senseless. The racist teabaggers always have to blame things on Democrats, until 2008 they blamed ever thing on Bill Clinton. Ask them about Pres.Obama’s 200 million dollar a day trip to India, oh the fun I’m having with those little pea brain teabaggers or should I say teabaggee’s.
    Go Palin 2012

  12. DLF says:

    Kyle, did our leaders vote for the war or not?This is a case where both parties must burden the blame, I said leader of the USA that means all of them. If you waht to blame one of them thats your problem.

  13. DLF says:

    Kyle, now I see your age, maybe that is why you are against the war, don’t forget the draft is gone, you are safe; at home while the other men and women; now and in the past have provided you the freedoms you have, what have you added?

  14. PC MAN says:

    DLF what a liar you are. You said “the leader of the USA”, whether you voted for him or not Pres. Obama is THE leader, be a man and own up to your statement.
    As for George Bush’s war that is a complete waste of lives, money and time. Even a kid can figure that out.

  15. david frank says:

    PC Man, you are correct after reviewing my posting I saw that I wrote leader ,I wanted to say leaders. I don ‘t think that makes me liar anymore then the LEADERS currently in office. The George Bush war was voted on by many of the LEADERS at that time, do you mean both of his wars? If so, I guess the current LEADER is supporting it by sending more of our troops over as we speak. If I tell you I will shut down the prison in Cuba and do not do it ,does that make me a liar, If I say “watch my lips no tax increse” and I raise the tax,am I a liar? face the facts the crew of crooks in Washington are all liars.

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