The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 18, 2013

Our View: Vandals tarnish history

The Joplin Globe

— In Baxter Springs, Kan., the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration is working to preserve the headstones of soldiers buried at the Baxter Springs National Cemetery No. 2 Soldiers’ Lot.

Even as the workers toil under the hot sun to ensure that 217 headstones will be saved for history, the despicable destruction of headstones in the old Newtonia Civil War Cemetery is under investigation.

And we hope law enforcement authorities find whoever smashed a dozen of the headstones dating back to the late 1800s in the old cemetery.

The property destruction represents disregard for everything we hold dear — our history, our soldiers and the memories of our loved ones.

That type of damage can’t be undone.

It can’t be fixed with restitution or jail time. Headstones are a remarkable window into the past. Why anyone would want to desecrate the resting place of the dead is beyond us.

The deliberate destruction is infuriating.

Pounded into dust, the headstones are gone forever.

Some of our most precious history can be found in the rural cemeteries that dot our counties.

Those cemeteries are generally open to anyone. Rarely will you encounter a gate or even a caretaker.

We encourage our readers who might have information about the destruction that took place at the Newtonia Civil War Cemetery to report it to the Newton County Sheriff’s Department.

And, if the culprits are found and convicted, we would ask a judge to sentence them to community service in the cemetery and require that they apologize to the family members whose loved ones’ headstones were destroyed.