Desecrating memorials not funny


Very few of us are left anymore, sadly,  who can share where we were on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese military forces attacked Pearl Harbor.

A larger group of us can share where we were on Nov. 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a visit to Dallas.

But believe it or not, there is a growing population who couldn’t say what they were doing on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, because they were either too young — or for anyone not yet old enough to drive, not even born yet.

This fall, we’ll remember the attacks on New York and Washington that occured some 16 years ago. And while the horror of that day might be as clear as day for many of us, it simply isn’t the same for teenagers and kids who just weren’t there.

Like how many of us might have felt about the Kennedy assassination, because we just weren’t around. Or even earlier, Pearl Harbor.

Yet, that is absolutely no excuse for anyone to disrespect the memory of those who were lost — and honor those who worked for months at ground zero to save lives — by desecrating memorials set up to remember such a tragedy.

That includes informal memorials, like the one at Endor Community Garden near West 253rd Street and Fieldston Road.

Last month, we shared the story of this memorial, placed by a mysterious benefactor, that remembered the heroes of 9/11 with connections to Riverdale, and its suddent disappearance. While no one can confidently claim teenagers were the cause of its theft, that particular community garden has been a hot spot for underage drinking and other petty crimes, according to neighbors.

While community members Robert and Laura Spalter work with the Riverdale Country School to replace the lost memorial, another neighbor (and city fire department union representative) Herb Eysser placed an American flag on the stand that once supported the 9/11 memorial. 

Like the memorial, however, that flag was stolen. When Eysser placed a second flag, that too disappeared.

Someone out there might think this is funny, but they are quite alone.

The Sept. 11 attacks themselves claimed the lives of 2,996 people, and it injured 6,000 others. 

Of those victims, 344 of them were firefighters, and 71 of them were law enforcement. As everyone was trying to get out of the burning World Trade Center towers, these brave men and women rushed in. They put their lives on the line — and ultimately made that ultimate sacrifice — simply to save others. 

There’s really no act more selfless than that, risking your life in an attempt to save someone else’s, and losing your life in the process.

Pearl Harbor was 76 years ago. Kennedy was shot and killed 54 years ago. Terrorists attacked this country on our home soil 16 years ago.

They say bad memories fade with time. But there are some memories that should never fade. And it’s for that very reason we keep those memories alive through memorials like the one in Endor.

And this vandalism must end now.