PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Investigators are working to find out who vandalized a memorial for veterans outside the Rhode Island State House.
The monuments at the Garden of Heroes, which honor all branches of the military, were found defaced with graffiti. Officials believe it happened sometime Thursday evening.
“It broke my heart to see those sacred stones spray-painted or tagged, as they honor our military roots in Rhode Island which has a deep history of service to our country since we were a colony,” R.I. Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) State Commander Joe “Tiger” Patrick II said.
Patrick says the VFW had also been looking for a way to thank the governor and state legislature for eliminating the military pension tax.
“That’s huge for us, and keeping our veterans here in Rhode Island and giving them a little bit more money to stay here,” Patrick added.
Patrick said the VFW arranged for the stones to be power-washed on Monday, and several correctional officers from the ACI also stepped in to help.
R.I. Department of Corrections spokesperson J.R. Ventura told 12 News there are many veterans on staff.
“When the story aired showing the awful defacement to the Foreign Wars Veterans’ “Garden of Heroes” memorial, Lieutenant Brian Carvalho from our Minimum Security facility reached out and requested to go down with one of the ground maintenance crews to lend a hand,” Ventura said.
“We were just glad we could join the Commander and the other volunteers to help right this regrettable wrong,” he added.
Rhode Island State Police told 12 News they’re investigating the vandalism, and Gov. Dan McKee said the State House facilities team will help with the cleanup.
“This is an absolutely shameful act,” McKee added. “The Garden of Heroes is a solemn place where loved ones come to honor and remember our fallen soldiers. I am disgusted by this cowardly vandalism, but I am thankful to the members of the RIVFW for their immediate willingness to engage in the restoration of the monument.”