Vero Beach doughboy statueThe new Vero Beach World War I memorial statue is seen at the Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary, on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, at Riverside Park. The World War I monument was dedicated along with the annual Veterans Day Ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 11. The bayonet blade on the $29,000 statue, bent and cracked by vandals, will cost about $2,000 to repair. 

Veterans planned to honor WWI soldiers with a statue. Vandals damaged it before Veterans Day

By Colleen Wixon
via the Treasure Coast Palm newspaper (FL) web site 

VERO BEACH — A statue honoring World War I veterans on the Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary has been vandalized, less than two weeks after it was installed.

The $29,000 monument, paid for through private contributions and local veterans organizations, features a bronze statue of a World War I doughboy carrying a Springfield 1903 rifle and bayonet. The statue was placed so the doughboy appears to look at the sanctuary's central walkway that honors local veterans who have died.

City workers noticed Tuesday that the bayonet was bent, City Manager Monte Falls said.

Footprints were noticed near the statute, said Police Chief David Currey. Someone may have grabbed the bayonet and hung from it, which caused it to bend, he said.

"These monuments are not toys. They are not playground equipment," Falls said. "It's really disappointing this has happened."

The statue was installed about two weeks ago, so it would be ready for a dedication during the Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday, Falls said. The Veterans Council of Indian River County organizes the Veterans Day event.

It's the only statue on the island, said Carroll Oates, president of the Indian River County Military Officers Association of America, which helped raise money for the statue, along with the Marine Corps League and private donations. Most other memorials are monuments honoring veterans and each branch of the military.

"We don't want to turn the island into a museum piece," Oates said.

This statue was an exception, designed to honor World War I veteran Alex MacWilliam Sr., whose vision in 1921 inspired the Vero Beach sanctuary.

"He felt that the island was something special," Oates said.

Read the entire article on the Treasure Coast Palm web site.

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