PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The paint was black, the strokes were thick and the intent was clear: to cover the words that define the qualities of the men and women who serve our country.
The Providence War Memorial was vandalized on Memorial Day, but with strong paint remover and a power washer, the graffiti was removed around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Honor, heroism, duty and loyalty are engraved on the pillars in La Salle Square, and above those words are the names of the men and women from the city who’ve served.
Cecil Hickman, a Vietnam veteran, heard the news about the vandalism and wanted to see it for himself.
“I just can’t believe it, it’s crazy,” he said.
Hickman said he understands all too well the pain of losing a comrade in battle.
“When you’ve seen a 19, 20, 21-year-old in a coffin, back from the Persian Gulf War or any of the other wars, and they’re so young, how can you not honor what they’ve done?” he said.
Hickman said vandalizing the memorial is a means of dishonoring those who paid the ultimate price for freedom, especially on Memorial Day.
Commander Ray Trinque, from Berard-Desjarlais American Legion Post 88, was in the army in the early 1980s, and he said the veterans don’t deserve this.
“Whoever did this should be ashamed and should come down and start cleaning it,” Trinque said. “I saw it and said, ‘are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Do you have anything better to do with your time?'”
Mayor Jorge Elorza ensured the city will work to immediately repair the memorial.
“I strongly condemn the vandalism that occurred at the Providence War Memorial,” Elorza said. “We pay homage to Providence residents who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and we remember them every day, especially during Memorial Day weekend.”
Daniel McConaghy, the executive director of the R.I. Convention Center Authority, is responsible for maintaining the monument grounds.
“Sadly and unfortunately, this was a terrible incident on Memorial Day,” he said. “It just defies any type of logic.”
McConaghy said no other graffiti was found anywhere else on the grounds, and that this hasn’t been an issue in the past at this specific monument.
Providence Police confirm an investigation is underway to try and determine who is responsible for the vandalism.