Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

I hope your having a safe and happy Memorial Day. I spent a part of mine visiting an Uncle that can't be here. God Bless everyone that has ever lost their life while serving our country. In 2006 Saint Joseph, Missouri had a problem with some young people that didn't respect those that have passed on. They vandalized a beautiful old cemetery. The final resting place of some of our Civil War Veterans. They were caught and a part of their sentence was to, "apologize for their actions in a public forum by writing letters to the community to appear in the News-Press." The letters were published Sunday, May 27, 2007 . One other person and I find their apologies hard to except and responded to the following News-Press article.



Teens apologize for Mount Mora vandalism spree

EDITOR'S NOTE: In September 2006, vandals struck Mount Mora Cemetery, causing more than $70,000 in damage over the course of several nights. Hundreds of tombstones and obelisks at the historic cemetery were knocked over, some of which were destroyed while others were able to be salvaged.

Six people - not one over the age of 17 - were arrested and charged for the crime. Randy E. Norris and Terry L. Danberry, both 17, were charged as adults and pleaded guilty to institutional vandalism. Both were ordered to complete 500 hours of community service repairing the damage they caused at the cemetery.

Four others between the ages of 13 and 16 were charged as juveniles. The teens' sentences consisted of hundreds of hours of community service cleaning up Mount Mora.

Officials completed restoring the damage earlier this year, and the teens continue to complete their community service by helping with maintenance at the cemetery.

The teens had one more duty to fulfill their sentences: apologize for their actions in a public forum by writing letters to the community to appear in the News-Press.

Dear Mount Mora Cemetery,

I am very sorry for what happened on your property. I did not know it was a popular place. I did not think before I did it, but since I did, I am paying for the consequences. When this happened, it affected a lot of people, including me and my family, and also you. It affected the relatives of the people who were buried there. I did feel bad after it happened. I am starting to do community service there. I think that it's a good consequence, along with being committed at the Buchanan County Academy. If I could go back in time, I would choose not to go there. I hope the others would think the same thing.

- Damien

Dear Mount Mora Cemetery,

I am sorry for tipping over graveyard stones. I did not know anything about the cemetery when I did that to the stones. Then, when I went through the tour, I found out every grave had a story. Ms. Lehr told me about the Pony Express riders. I learned a lot about the graveyard. I would never have done that if I had known. But I never meant to hurt anybody or the families. I wish that I would have walked away and gone home. But instead of doing that, I stayed. But at the time, I thought I was cool. I got in a lot of trouble. I had to write a letter, then I went to Buchanan County Academy. I'm really sorry and I hope you can forgive me.

- Monty

Dear Mount Mora Cemetery,

I apologize for knocking down the tombstones. I know what I did was wrong now and I'm sorry for that. If someone knocked over my family member's tombstone, I would be upset. And I'm going to help the cemetery so that I can make things right by doing community service. I did a lot of damage and I wish I wouldn't have done it. I have learned a lot since I went back to the cemetery with a local historian. I learned that the cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places, and some of the important individuals in the history of St. Joseph have been buried there, such as Pony Express riders, war veterans and Missouri governors. I also learned that so many individuals who were laid to rest at Mount Mora were brave heroes.

- Anthony

Dear Mount Mora Cemetery Association,

I am so sorry for pushing over headstones. I am sure it hurts everyone, especially the people who had family buried up there. I will help clean up the place by raking leaves and other helpful stuff.

If I could turn back time, I would never have gone up there in the first place with the other kids. The consequences I have for this incident are: I'm on probation, I have 250 hours of community service, I have to write a 1,000 word essay on the history of the cemetery and I am writing this apology letter.

I met with someone who knows a lot about Mount Mora. I learned that the cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and important individuals in St. Joseph have been buried there. Many of them were heroes, such as veterans and people who died in fires. I know and understand why my actions upset the community.

- John



Reader Comments

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Posted: Sunday, May 27, 2007
Article comment by: Tee

After reading the letters from the vandals of Mount Mora Cemetery, one thing struck me. None were the "ring leader". Each one says they wished they had not done it and gone home, but apparently it was no one's idea. All were only followers. The other thing was the constant focus on a cemetery of heroes. It was a resting place for the dead, no matter who they were. Tearing up anything is reprehensible in our disposible society. Waste not and want not later. Why damage? Young people why not create instead? Don't tear up a cemetery, clean up a park. Adopt a highway, rake an elderly person's yard. Stand up for something worthwhile instead of lying down for something reprehensible. You know better, you had to do this thing under the cover of darkness. If it has to be secret or done in the quiet, it is probably wrong. Remember that. Practice it and then learn it before it is too late for you.

Posted: Sunday, May 27, 2007
Article comment by: David

Dear, Damien, Monty, Anthony, & John, I'm sorry but there is something I have to ask before I can except your apologies. I hope you will respond without being forced to do so. Just suppose Mount Mora Cemetery was not on the National Register of Historic Places and there were no heroes, veterans or famous people buried there. They were all just common everyday people. You didn't know any of them or their families. If that was the case would your actions have been any less serious? God Bless America, God Save The Republic.


I really expected more people to speak out about this and hoped to hear more from Damien, Monty, Anthony, & John. As it is I'm not so sure they have learned much and the apologies were just something they had to do to complete their sentences. The lack of public comments shows that the community doesn't care. Because of that I expect to see these four boy's names in the news in the future.

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

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