Vandalism tarnishes WWI monument

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An unidentified black substance partially obscures one of the names etched into the Naugatuck World War I memorial. The monument bears the name of 30 local men who died fighting in WWI. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
An unidentified black substance partially obscures one of the names etched into the Naugatuck World War I memorial. The monument bears the name of 30 local men who died fighting in WWI. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — Vandalism was recently discovered on a Naugatuck war memorial prominently located near the Green, a memorial that only recently underwent $40,000 of restoration.

Located next to Salem Elementary School, the World War I memorial features a pedestal engraved with the names of the 30 local men who fought and died in World War I. A flagpole rises from the pedestal.

Recently, various sorts of vandalism have marred the monument’s appearance.

A tar-like substance dots the base of the pedestal on one side. A different kind of black substance is also affixed over one of the pedestal’s faces, partially obscuring one of the names etched into the stone.

Some small stones cemented into the base the pedestal sits on have also been removed, leaving a gaping, unsightly hole.

A few spots of a clear, resin-like substance also appear on one of the pedestal’s faces.

Veteran Ron Fischer, a resident who spearheaded the fundraising efforts to restore the monument, called the vandalism an insult to his own efforts and to those of other residents.

“This is not only a slap in the face to me, but a slap in the face to the town and to everyone who donated,” Fischer said.

Fischer discovered the vandalism last month during a Flag Day ceremony at the monument with local veterans and school children.

“We turned around to salute the flag and that’s what we saw,” Fischer said, pointing toward the black substance over a name.

Naugatuck’s World War I memorial. –FILE PHOTO
Naugatuck’s World War I memorial. –FILE PHOTO

The ceremony was on June 12, preceding the June 14 Flag Day. Fischer isn’t sure when the vandalism actually occurred.

Fischer plans to call the firm that did the restoration work, ConservArt of Hamden. He wants a representative to come inspect the monument in order to determine how much it might cost to clean away the vandalism.

However, he cautioned residents to be vigilant in order to prevent any future vandalism.

“We can’t just pay to fix it every time someone does something like this,” Fischer said.

Initially dedicated in 1920, the World War I monument gradually fell into disrepair. Fischer led a grassroots effort to raise the $40,000 needed to fully restore the monument.
That restoration work was completed about three years ago.

Fischer said he has spoken to other area veterans who are upset by the apparent vandalism. He urged those who may have committed the vandalism to consider the significance of the monument.

“This has a sacred meaning,” Fischer said. “It’s not a piece of art someone just stuck up here.”