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Bradenton veterans memorial damaged

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Park officials say the damage is due to skateboarders Park officials say the damage is due to skateboarders
BRADENTON, FL (WFLA) -

A veterans memorial in Bradenton has been damaged, and organizers are blaming skateboarders.

It comes at a bad time, as the group just finished some upgrades, and Memorial Day is just a few weeks away.

The Manatee Veterans Monument Park is a collection of dozens of granite benches, each honoring a service member.  Don Courtney, the chairman of the Manatee County Veterans Council, pointed out some of the names on the benches.

"A lot of them are Korea, Vietnam, World War II, China Burma India- this group of veterans don't even exist no more there's so few of them," said Carpenter.  "We get a lot of people who just like to walk around and sit down and reflect."

Courtney said over the past few weeks, skateboarders have been riding through Manatee Veterans Monument Park to get to the skate park across the street.  Since then, six monuments had to be taken away for repairs, and other monuments are cracked.

"We have no problem with [skateboarders] cutting through, no problem, no issue. But just don't skateboard through it," Courtney said.  "It's frustrating, it's irritating and it's so needless. They got a great place over there. If they didn't have a place it might be different."

Courtney said the repair costs run around $1,500, and that's money the council really doesn't have. The group operates from donations, and in November the group just spent $18,000 adding a flag pole and some new surfacing.

As they figure out how to pay for the damages, organizers want others to respect this memorial.

"If you don't like the military, fine go around the park we have no problem with that. But don't come in here and try to damage it just for the heck of it," said Courtney.

He says this is hallowed ground.

"It's sacred to a lot of the veterans and their families," said Courtney.

The Manatee County Veterans council will discuss the repair costs at an upcoming meeting.  Officials say they may consider holding a fundraiser to pay for the damage.

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