Vandalism in veterans cemetery outrages residents

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Vandalism in veterans cemetery outrages residents

By Maggie Vespa. CREATED Jul 10, 2013

SIERRA VISTA (KGUN9-TV) - Residents are outraged in Sierra Vista, after vandals viciously targeted the tight-knit town's veterans cemetery.

Over the 4th of July weekend, someone used their sanctuary to send a message.  
The consensus in Sierra Vista?  That person must pay.
It's not just graffiti on their final resting place. 
"This is very sacred," said Joe Larson.
To residents, it's an attack on their honor.
"For someone to come out here and desecrate the ground like that is very disrespectful," he said.
Larson runs the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
He says grounds crew workers found the spray painted plot, pink and illegible, Monday morning.
"When I first saw it I was very disheartened," he said.  "To make a statement, it's just not how we do things out here."
Landscapers quickly cut the grass down, removing most of the paint, but the pain remains.
"It's just bad all the way around."
Especially for people like David James.
He and his wife come here every day to visit their daughter.
"There are people running around who are enjoying the first amendment, enjoying the freedoms of our Constitution, so they are making their own statement, but they are making it in the wrong place."
It's the same story for Luis Tapia.
His father is a veteran of the US Army.
They buried his mother here earlier this year.
"I'm very angry.  I'm very angry," he said.  "That somebody would come over here and just do that.  It just ain't right.  It's just not human."
And that anger reaches outside these cemetery walls in this small military town, Fort Huachuca and all.
"I don't think you could throw a stone in Sierra Vista without hitting a veteran," said one man.
That means residents are taking this cowardly crime to heart.
"I was shocked and angry," he said.
"It's really sad that someone would think that it's okay to do something like that," said one woman.
Larson tells us the response from that community has been overwhelming.
People are calling, showing up left and right wanting to help.
Sierra Vista police is on the case.
Larson says, while it's hard to tell what was written, pink is frequently used in anti-war tagging.