Just a couple of weeks ago, thieves took down three brass plaques from the veteran’s memorial at Kimball Park Stadium in National City, California. The sudden disappearance of the memorial plaques that have honored fallen American soldiers for over 60 years sparked outrage among the residents of the California community.
In an interview with NBC reporters, Rick Devries, a Navy veteran, said that “to disrespect the veterans who died so they could be out there… it tears at my gut that someone would be that low to do this.”
Locals were outraged at the desecration of monuments meant to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and fellow man, and many had difficulty with finding a possible motive for this heinous act. Authorities, on the other hand, found one possible motive, based on a rash of similar thefts from the Greenwood Memorial Park, where thieves, perhaps the same ones, were stealing bronze vases from graves. In that case, it was believed that the stolen vases were being melted down to be sold for scrap, and it was feared that the brass plaques from the memorial might meet the same fate.
Currently, brass can be valued at anywhere between $1.50 to $2.75 per pound, depending on the quality and type of the brass. This price fluctuates regularly, so making an accurate estimate of what the thieves could have expected to be paid for the metal in the plaques is nearly impossible. The largest of the plaques weighed a little over 120 pounds. Local recycling plants would never have taken such large, recognizable monuments, so the theory is that the thieves were planning to take their ill-gotten loot across the border to melt down and recycle there.
However, the expense of transporting multiple plaques across the border to recycle them in an area where they would not be recognized, then splitting the take among the number of people it would have taken to remove such large plaques from their concrete mounts would virtually negate any profit to be made. Thankfully, the thieves themselves must have realized that their crime wasn’t worth the trouble, as they later abandoned the plaques outside an apartment complex in San Ysidro.
Doing the Right Thing
Saturday evening, Elvino Bascon, a TSA worker, found the abandoned plaques and did some online research about them. Curious about the plaques, Mr. Bascon looked them up online, and discovered that they had been stolen. He immediately contacted the National City Police Department, and the plaques were recovered. Unfortunately, NCPD officials stated that one of the plaques appeared to have been damaged, and that the plaques will not be replaced on the memorial until all evidence has been collected from them and the damaged plaques have been restored to their original condition.
We would like to thank Mr. Bascon for not only finding the missing plaques, but for notifying officials so that they could be recovered.
More than Brass
The mayor of National City, Ron Morrison, was certainly relieved to have the plaques back. As he told NBC Channel 7, while he would have made sure that the plaques were replaced one way or another, the community wanted the originals because “those are the [plaques] that were dedicated” to the original veterans, and “to put up new ones, as much as that would renew our appreciation and admiration for those who gave their lives, at the same time, it’s still a memory that was desecrated.” You can watch the embedded video below for the full story from NBC:
For the members of the community, these plaques were far more than simple pieces of brass, they were a part of the heritage and history of National City. Each one of these plaques honors the memories of the soldiers who were from that community who died in conflicts overseas, from World War II to the Korean and Vietnam wars. When the would-be thieves stole these plaques, they not only defaced a treasured local monument, they made a personal attack on the families of those being honored and on the community as a whole.
Plaques such as the ones that should be adorning the memorial at Kimball Park Stadium are a way of preserving and honoring the memories of those who selflessly gave their all for the rest of us so that we are able to enjoy peaceful lives and enjoy the protection of our freedoms. What’s more, these plaques are a part of National City’s identity, and have been for decades.
In light of the attacks made by petty criminals against the memorials to veterans in National City, Mayor Morrison has announced that new security measures, including the addition of more surveillance cameras, will be implemented in National City’s parks and other areas to deter future grave robbers and vandals from committing such crimes again.
We here at In The News are glad to hear that the plaques have been recovered, and that the citizens of National City will be able to enjoy a restored monument to their shared history once more. We firmly believe that the history of a community is something to be preserved and honored, and that plaques such as the ones adorning the Kimball Park Stadium are an integral part of doing that.