Police in Washingtonville, New York are on the hunt for vandals who desecrated a 9/11 firefighter memorial by cutting down an American flagpole.
The memorial reportedly honors Washingtonville firefighters who were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September, 11, 2001, according to the Times Herald-Record. Washingtonville Police Chief Brian Zaccaro said that the severed flagpole was found on Wednesday morning after the vandals used a tool to cut through the composite material pole. He added that they left a message on the roughly five feet of pole that remained in place.
Police have decided not to reveal what the message said while the investigation continues.
The destroy everything & hate everyone culture has struck again last night as the Washingtonville NY Orange County 9/11 Memorial park was vandalized & AMERICAN FLAG CUT DOWN. These individuals obviously don't know what sacrificing everything to save a fellow human being really is pic.twitter.com/oUFdh3gWr2
— NYCFireWire (@NYCFireWire) July 8, 2020
Police belief that the people who desecrated this memorial are the same ones who damaged a church sign about a half-mile away. They have come to this conclusion because an eagle figure which was removed from the flagpole was later found near the toppled church sign.
“These two locations mean so much to Washingtonville and the larger community,” said New York State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, whose district includes the area, according to Fox6Now.
The memorial, which was completed on September 7, 2002, is described as a “somber, granite-and-brick tribute to the ‘Washingtonville Five’ and the other 9/11 victims.” It honors the “Washingtonville Five” heroes: firefighters Mark Whitford, Bobby Hamilton, and Gerry Nevins, Battalion Chief Dennis Devlin, and Lt. Glenn Perry.
Local Mayor Joseph Bucco has pledged to replace the flagpole, and he has announced a $3,000 reward for any information regarding the incident.
“There’s always someone sitting on those benches, from morning until night,” the mayor said.
The memorial was created by Washingtonville resident Joe Zaccaro, who made it in order to honor the five lives that were lost to terrorism. He was heartbroken to learn of the vandalism this week.
“It was like a punch to the stomach,” said Zaccaro. “I was just so upset and I started getting a bunch of text messages and emails from a lot of people from our town.”
Mayor Bucco has made it abundantly clear that he intends to catch the people who did this. “They picked the wrong village to do something like this,” he said.