OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - United States Army veteran Richard Eckert made a disturbing discovery when he visited the Pershing Square War Memorial in front of the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs.
American Legion Post 42 put benches and plaques up around bricks commemorating men and women who served their country. The two plaques on benches on the perimeter of the memorial had been tampered with.
"I happened to glance off over here and noticed one of the Pershing Park plaques was hanging by one screw. I was stunned at first. Then I walked across the way and noticed two screws were missing from the other plaque," Eckert said.
No one has been arrested for vandalism at this time. Those responsible could have been trying to steal the bronze plaques for monetary gain or the vandals simply could have engaged in malicious mischief.
Either way, Eckert can't believe someone would attempt to destroy or take a part of this memorial.
"My heart dropped. Who would do something like this," said Eckert.
Members of the American Legion will be keeping an eye on the memorial. People at the Mary C. says they'll be more watchful, and the City of Ocean Springs won't tolerate vandalism of any kind.
Eckert hopes to raise awareness and remind people that the behavior is unacceptable.
"Vandalism is serious business, particularly to a war memorial. It's not like throwing toilet paper on a tree in someone's yard. This is a war memorial. It's sacred ground," said Eckert.