LAFAYETTE (CBS SF) – Vandals have knocked down dozens of crosses on a Lafayette hillside that are part of a memorial to U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jeff Heaton, coordinator of the memorial, said his partner noticed that crosses had been knocked down as she drove by on Thursday afternoon.

On Saturday, Heaton said, police contacted him and asked him if he would like to file a report, which he did. Seventy of more than 4,000 memorial crosses had been knocked over or otherwise damaged, he said.

Most of the crosses are wooden but some are metal, and police confiscated several of the metal crosses in hopes that they would return fingerprints. Heaton has not yet heard back from authorities.

The memorial was originally created in 2006 as a tribute to soldiers killed overseas, a place to grieve, and a reminder of lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, Heaton said.

“At the time we erected the memorial, the media wasn’t showing caskets of soldiers who died in the war. For a while they weren’t even showing (images of) funerals,” he said. “It is a reminder that people are still dying in a war most people don’t pay attention to anymore.”

Heaton says he thinks teenagers who were frustrated or angry most likely knocked down the crosses.

“It wasn’t unexpected,” he said, noting that vandalism has been a recurring issue at the memorial. “There is sometimes this snafu about young people experiencing grief, so maybe they see something dedicated to experiencing grief and want to mess with it.”

Some of the memorial’s crosses were decorated and donated by local artists, and Heaton says none of those were damaged.

“We’re grateful for that,” he says.

Volunteers will gather on Saturday for a working party to reassemble the fallen crosses.


(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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