June 14, 2008

Memorial Boulevard statue mauled

Vandals attacked a statue of a gun-toting soldier on Memorial Boulevard last night, turning the historic bronze monument into little more than a pile of scrap metal.
"It's completely destroyed," said Park Director Ed Swicklas.
Swicklas said he believes that vandals climbed atop the rock base and pushed the statue back and forth until it snapped off at the legs.
Then they ripped apart its rifle, leggings and more, bending bars and tearing it apart.
"I just can't believe someone would do that," Swicklas said. "It's pretty disheartening."
The statue is apparently one of 52 bronze casts by Alice Ruggles Kitson in the 1920s to commemorate the Spanish-American war. Known as "The Hiker," the Memorial Boulevard statue has a twin at the entrance to Rockwell Park that wasn't damaged.
The city spent thousands to restore the statue in the mid-1990s and will likely need to spend at least as much to fix the damage this time around, Swicklas estimated.
Swicklas said it's probably the worst act of vandalism he's seen as park director.
"It's rotten. It's gotta stop," he said.
The city has been taking measures to combat vandalism in the parks, including the installation of cameras at downtown's Brackett Park. There are plans for more cameras in other parks, including the boulevard, which is lined with war memorials and monuments.
More on this later.

Update: Mayor Art Ward said that vandals broke off the rifle and snapped the legs before bending the statue backwards almost horizontally. It is held to the boulder by steel rods, he said. "It looks like a concerted effort to create damage," Ward said.
Calling the vandalism "unconsionable and totally disrespectful," Ward said that the culprits must be caught and punished.
Vandalism, he said, "is escalating out of control."
The mayor said that for vandals to attack the monuments on Memorial Boulevard is "unfathomable" and distressing to the entire community.

Another update: “What’s wrong with people?” asked city Councilor Frank Nicastro.“This has gotta stop. This is going way too far.”
Nicastro said he’s “had it” with vandalism in the city.
“We have to get tough. There is no excuse for lenience on this,” said Nicastro, who is also the 79th District’s state representative.
“This country needs to get tough. It’s too damn liberal. Something like this is a disgrace,” Nicastro said.
He said it’s particularly hard to take an attack on the boulevard, which “is dedicated to the men and women who gave their lives” for the country.
“And then people do things like this?” Nicasto asked. “Where the hell are their sense of values?”
“We really have to see to it that these people are caught and prosecuted to the fullest. The judges have got to come down hard on this. There’s no reason to be lenient,” Nicastro said.
Nicastro said he wonders if perhaps the culprits were not merely vandals, but metal thieves who got scared away somehow.
According to the American Legion post’s website, which has a picture of the statue in better day (shown above), “The Hiker” was put on the boulevard in 1983 and dedicated the following year to all of the soldiers killed in World War II.
It originally stood at Nettie Rockwell’s Brightwood Estate on West Street, the website says.

Full story:
Striking in the middle of the night, vandals attacked a statue of a gun-toting soldier on Memorial Boulevard, turning the historic bronze monument into little more than a pile of scrap metal."It's completely destroyed," said Park Director Ed Swicklas.Swicklas said he believes that vandals climbed atop the rock base sometime Friday night or Saturday morning and pushed statue back and forth until it snapped off at the legs.Then they ripped apart its rifle, leggings and more, bending bars and tearing it apart.Mayor Art Ward said that vandals broke off the rifle and snapped the legs before bending the statue backwards almost horizontally. It is held to the boulder by steel rods, he said.
"It looks like a concerted effort to create damage," Ward said."I just can't believe someone would do that," Swicklas said. "It's pretty disheartening."
“What’s wrong with people?” asked city Councilor Frank Nicastro.“This has gotta stop. This is going way too far.”
The statue is one of 52 bronze casts by Alice Ruggles Kitson nearly a century ago to commemorate the Spanish-American war. The statues show an eight-foot tall “hiker” – a common term for Spanish-American War veterans – dressed in khaki, holding a rifle and looking as if he were resting after a long trek.
Known as "The Hiker," the Memorial Boulevard statue has a twin at the entrance to Rockwell Park that wasn't damaged. Other copies can be found at Arlington National Cemetery, the University of Minnesota and in a number of New England towns.The city spent thousands to restore the statue in the mid-1990s and will likely need to spend at least as much to fix the damage this time around, Swicklas estimated.Swicklas said it's probably the worst act of vandalism he's seen as park director."It's rotten. It's gotta stop," he said.
Calling the vandalism "unconscionable and totally disrespectful," Ward said that the culprits must be caught and punished.Vandalism, he said, "is escalating out of control."The mayor said that for vandals to attack the monuments on Memorial Boulevard is "unfathomable" and distressing to the entire community.Nicastro said he’s “had it” with vandalism in the city.“We have to get tough. There is no excuse for lenience on this,” said Nicastro, who is also the 79th District’s state representative.“This country needs to get tough. It’s too damn liberal. Something like this is a disgrace,” Nicastro said.He said it’s particularly hard to take an attack on the boulevard, which “is dedicated to the men and women who gave their lives” for the country.“And then people do things like this?” Nicasto asked. “Where the hell are their sense of values?”“We really have to see to it that these people are caught and prosecuted to the fullest. The judges have got to come down hard on this. There’s no reason to be lenient,” Nicastro said.Nicastro said he wonders if perhaps the culprits were not merely vandals, but metal thieves who got scared away somehow.According to the American Legion post’s website, which has a picture of the statue in better day (shown above), “The Hiker” was put on the boulevard in 1983 and dedicated the following year to all of the soldiers killed in World War II.It originally stood at Nettie Rockwell’s Brightwood Estate on West Street, the website says.
The city has been taking measures to combat vandalism in the parks, including the installation of cameras at downtown's Brackett Park. There are plans for more cameras in other parks, including the boulevard, which is lined with war memorials and monuments.
Kitson is widely regarded as “one of the most prolific female bronze sculptors in America,” according to the National Park Service.
Born in 1876 in Brookline, Mass., she studied in Paris and designed public sculptures throughout the country, many of them honoring soldiers. The Gorham Foundry in Rhode Island cast her work, including “The Hiker” statues.

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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

39 comments:

5th generation Bristol resident said...

It's probably just rotten kids. I like that statue. This is truely sad. Some kids are taught not to appreciate American history, city property and personal property as well.

Someone's been beating up the Federal Hill playground as well. The swings are getting all screwed up because big kids have been climbing on them. It needs to stop. I was at the park when some older hispanic kids showed up. They were swearing and fighting with each other and climbing all over the equpiment. They had no business even being there because it's a toddler park.

I'll bet it's something simialar with the statue. Or maybe it's some kids who've been told or feel that America is bad and/or soldiers are bad? Or perhaps they're just trashy kids out to destroy something?

Anonymous said...

Disgusting!!!

former GOP activist said...

I have confidence that our mayor, the honorable Arthur Ward will see to it, along with our men in blue, that this dispicable act is investigated and prosecuted to the up-most extent.

Thank you mayor Ward for all that you do and have done to make Bristol a better place.

Anonymous said...

This is just more bad news. Though not a lover of the recent changes to the Boulevard, when walking there I will stop to pause and reflect at the statue and the obelisk.

We have a problem here. The vandalism and graffiti are slowly taking over. And it foreshadows more crime which we are seeing now in the robberies and break-ins.

Our local authorities seem not care. My wife and I have complained to our council representatives on several occasions only to be met with indifference.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for John Divenere.

Anonymous said...

June 14, 2008 11:55 AM:

I agree with you 100% on ALL your points (including the first one).

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

June 14, 2008 12:34 PM:

What's that supposed to mean? Do you want him directing patrols policing the statues or your house? I think J.D. does a fairly good job as PD Chief. I say keep him! Thank god for the United States of America.

cseguin said...

That's terrible - one of my fondest childhood memories is walking down the Boulevard and admiring all the statues. It's beyond me why someone would do such a thing.

Tim Gamache said...

Obviously done by individuals with no self respect,ergo no repect for anyone/anything else.Parents(or lack of same) definitely are playing a role here.

Anonymous said...

they probably wanted to turn in the scrap for money - there is big business in that these days.

Anonymous said...

Such a disrespectful act! I'm absolutely disgusted.
I agree that it was probably an attempt to cash in the scrap for money.

Anonymous said...

McCauley: How come you didn't warn us against this?

Anonymous said...

Someone dial 911, the hiker was raped!

In prospective, compared to the Cheshire murders and the murder of that lady from New Britain, this is nothing.

Anonymous said...

this is an act of a cowards...
this must have taken a long time to destroy this statue and where Bristol finest??? OH I know sitting around at Fast Edies of DD doing NOTHING !!!This is one more example of police sitting around when they should be patrolling the area for this kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling us about this. Do you ever get a day off?

Anonymous said...

WHAT A SHAME TO DAMAGE THE HISTORICAL SITE .I HOPE THAT THEY PICK UP THE FINGERPRINTS OF WHO DID THIS DAMAGE. THE PLACE OF THE MEMORIAL BLVD. IS FOR THE PEOPLE ENJOYING TO WALK THRU AND TO HONOR WHOSE WHO FOUGHT IN THE WARS. THERE SHOULD BE RESPECT.

Anonymous said...

"Someone dial 911, the hiker was raped!"

What a totally pointless and tasteless comment. The desecration of the memorial statute is an outrage and people have the right to express their disappoint and disgust, but no one in their right mind would compare vandalism with the horrific incidents that you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Correction: the Blvd. memorial is for the people who DIED in the wars. Plain old veterans still very much alive have somehow gotten themselves included as part of the memorial and other holidays designed solely to honor the dead.

Anonymous said...

? - 7:33pm - FYI - Memorial Boulevard is a City of Bristiol park which is dedicated to memorialize those Bristolites who died while serving in the wars for the United States of America in addition to honoring the service of every Bristol man and woman who wore the military uniform of this country.

Anonymous said...

Hey 11:15 what are you saying. Are they worse kids because they are Hispanic? Your generations have carried the hate well.

Anonymous said...

I say get rid of all the memorials on the boulevard, make it a RT 72 highway ext. with some small businesses along the strip and put up some sort of memorial/monument at the mall site instead.

Anonymous said...

June 15, 2008 8:32 PM:

No I'm saying they were disrespectful punks who happened to be hispanic and in many cases this is the norm. Just check the Harford police blotter if you don't believe me.

Anonymous said...

June 15, 2008 7:33 PM:

You're right!


June 15, 2008 8:56 PM:

Good idea!

Anonymous said...

8:56pm ahhh yeah good idea dumbass... Your probably one of the stupid little kids that dont respect anything like those monuments? And anouther the the skateboarding in the parking lot across the street from the Bristol Press has got to come to an end as well.. Its damaging the property... If they open anouther DD in Bristol im gonna be PISSED.

Anonymous said...

8:04pm, you are wrong. it is only for those who died in war. that's why it's called a MEMORIAL! memorials are for dead people. what don't you understand about that?

Anonymous said...

? - 8:32 and 8:52 - your moms would even be shaking their heads in shame for raising such dolts as you.

Anonymous said...

? 6:16am - if you had any idea of what the Boulevard was about, you would be aware of the fact that one side of the Boulevard is dedicated solely to "those who gave the supreme sacrifice" and that the other side is dedicated to everyone else who served in the military.
Maybe you should visit your friendly library, or even the actual monuments, in order to acquire sufficient and correct information before "shooting" off your mouth.

Anonymous said...

It's time to practice our 2nd Amendment. People have to be taught a lesson. I don't care how old they are, they need to learn to have respect for other peoples and the cities property, especially memorials dedicated to the people that gave them the freedom they obviously do not deserve. With the summer time coming and school being out I can only imagine the vandalism increasing. We need to get a group of city volunteers that will keep watch through the night in shifts if necessary to stop these idiots. When caught aside from the punishment of the laws they broke they should be made to stand at the Monument in the middle of the Boulevard holding a sign declaring that they are the pieces of dung that desecrated the memorials.

Anonymous said...

June 16, 2008 6:52 AM:

You're wrong. Whatever the north side has been recently usurped/morphed into is irrelevant.

The Memorial Boulevard is for soldiers KIA, not anything else. Just like Memorial Day is for the same.

Get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

? 12:18 - your twisted mindset suggests that you are either purposely ignorant or just plain stupid - dig a great big hole and bury yourself.

Anonymous said...

June 16, 2008 6:16 AM, AKA June 16 2008 6:52 AM, AKA June 16 2008 1:17PM:

Coming from an ignoramous blow-hard like you, I would heed no such advice.

Tim Gamache said...

12:18p: For the record you're incorrect.The southern side of Veterans Memorial Park has always been dedicated to those men and women who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice.The nortern side has always been comemerative.Dedicated to honoring ALL those who have served from Bristol.A simple observation of the monuments on each side will make this quite apparent.The names of those who gave their lives in our nations' wars can only be found on those monuments on the Memorial(southern) side of the Park.

Anonymous said...

June 16, 2008 1:32 PM:

What are you talking about? The stuff on the north side is relatively new. The exception being the stones by the street (on both sides) with the names of WW One vets who were killed in action. Do you even remember those? Oh yeah that's the reason the Boulevard was created in the first place.

It is true that this statue was given to honor all ww 2 vets, albeit it is a portrayal of a Spanish-American War soldier. But that's fine and but that's not the point. The MEMORIAL Boulevard is a MEMORIAL for soldiers who DIED in action. That is what MEMORIAL means.

Anonymous said...

? - Tim, no sense trying to educate or reason with stupid, stupider and stupidest - sounds like the same person - hope so - be scary if the three of them were actually of the same family.

Anonymous said...

Rockwell intended the Boulevard to be a memorial for the dead. Over the years, pandering politicians decided to let veterans groups take over part of the Boulevard to honor themselves. The meaning of these memorials, like the meaning of these holidays, has been cheapened because for some veterans they need to constantly get patted on the back like they were selfless volunteers for country, even though a good number of them were drafted into service and others have never even seen combat, yet they make themselves the center of everry holiday that has anything to do with country, even now they expect to be honored on Flag Day. and even on the anniversery of D Day we have veterans being honored even though many of them weren't even born yet when D Day happened.

Anonymous said...

5:10 ~ While there are some veterans who may need to be "constantly patted on the back" ... they are certainly the exception and not the rule. If it weren't for the veterans groups, the memorials to the dead would be overgrown and forgotten. The veterans are the ones who make sure we remember.

Anonymous said...

June 28 10:01 When are you going to learn respect ?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately it is the politicians who "remember" the veterans.

Anonymous said...

3:14, I won't learn respect until Lori Deflippi ships me off to Iraq.