Note: Crews were at the memorial on Tuesday and cleaned up the vandalism. Click here to see a Facebook post from Onslow County Government.
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after vandals damaged the Onslow County Public Safety Memorial sometime over the weekend.
The defacement included graffiti depicting anti-Christian phrases and imagery along with at least one curse word.
A media release from Onslow County Government stated that churchgoers at the Tar Landing Baptist Church discovered the graffiti Sunday morning. The Onslow County Public Safety Memorial shares a parking lot with the church.
“This memorial honors those first responders who gave their lives while helping and protecting the citizens of Onslow County and is a symbol to their families that we will never forget their sacrifice,” said Norman Bryson, director of Emergency Services in Onslow County. “We have a lot of first responders in this county, paid and volunteer, that give their time and service to the public and this memorial shows our appreciation for them.”
“It’s very upsetting, as a matter of fact, it makes me very, very mad to see someone will go out and to disgrace this and defame this memorial,” he added.
Robert Williams, senior pastor at Tar Landing Baptist Church, expressed disappointment at what happened.
“We are saddened by the actions of those who vandalized the Onslow County Public Safety Memorial,” Williams said. “Our security team has and will continue to cooperate with Onslow County officials and law enforcement as needed. Hopefully, those who are responsible will be identified and held responsible by local law enforcement. Our prayer is that our Lord will help them understand their attitudes and actions are wrong and may He grant them repentance.”
The Onslow County Public Safety Memorial is located at 112 NW Corridor Blvd. in Jacksonville. It includes a sculpture entitled “Reflected in Our Eyes,” a curved wall of highly polished stainless steel cut with the outlines of a fire and rescue responder, a law enforcement responder and an emergency medical services responder.
The voids created by their outline represent those now missing from the community. The mirrored surface allows the viewer to be reflected back, side by side with the with cut-out image of the first responders.
There are 14 names on the sculpture representing those known to have died in service to the public. Onslow County holds an annual ceremony at the memorial where their names are read out in a roll call to honor them.
“I serve as the fire chief at Pumpkin Center and one of our members is on this wall here,” said Onslow County Fire Marshall, Jeremy Foster.
“Not only does this stand for those who gave their lives, this memorial also stands for those who are out there dedicated in providing for the citizens every day,” added Bryson.
Clean-up of the graffiti will begin this week, Bryson said. The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office is investigating and anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call 910 455-3113.