Enough is enough.
With their beloved war memorial under near-constant attack in Society Hill,
some local Vietnam veterans are preparing to once again answer the call of duty.
Beginning next week, the vets will patrol the grounds of the Philadelphia
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in an attempt to ward off heartless punks who have made a hobby of vandalizing the hallowed space.
Terry Williamson, president of the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Fund, said that skateboarders and in-line skaters have seemingly stepped up their mistreatment of the memorial since the site's
$500,000 renovation last fall.
"It really breaks your heart," Williamson said during a recent interview
with the Daily News.
"We thought the improvements that we made would have helped," he said, sighing,
"but it appears it just made the memorial more attractive to young people who don't care what it means."
On March 7, police arrested three suburban youths who were spotted desecrating
the memorial, Williamson said.
Months ago, workers replaced cracked brick pavers inside the memorial, at
Front and Spruce streets, with stamped concrete.
The sacred center of the space, a granite wall that includes the names of
646 area soldiers who died in Vietnam, was restored.
New lights and a modern 24-hour surveillance system was also installed;
live video of the memorial can be seen at www.pvvm.org.
Williamson hopes to raise another $500,000 for a second phase of renovations,
which would include opening up the Spruce Street side of the memorial with steps.
Jim Moran, the memorial's unofficial custodian, said that the new concrete
is frequently scuffed and scarred by skaters, as are the refinished granite walls.
On March 20, a group of 10 skateboarders yanked out "skate guards" that
had been installed on railings and walls, Moran said. They have not been caught.
Williamson said volunteer patrols would run through Memorial Day. Veterans
interested in volunteering may call 215-576-1216.