Vandals Target Coeur D’Alene 9/11 Memorial

COEUR D’ALENE — A memorial site in Coeur d’ Alene dedicated to the victims of 9/11 was targeted by vandals overnight Tuesday.

Overnight someone torched a black tarp covering one of the three basalt columns, leaving behind a sticky mess. The damage was discovered early Wednesday morning as Coeur d’Alene Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Lauper was checking on the Fallen Heroes Memorial at Cherry Hill Park.

“To me, I just don’t understand it,” Lauper said. “I would have never guess that this would be a target of arson.”

Spokane Valley Firefighter Mark Normington stopped by the park to play with his grandson Wednesday and couldn’t believe what he saw,

“What a moron. I know its kids. They don’t think that’s a memorial, they just think its something that will burn.  Someone with a lighter, they’re not thinking how it affects people like me.  It’s a really nice thing, and they ruined it,” he said.

For the past four years, the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department has worked on planning and designing the memorial. The firefighters’ union spent $10,000 on the project so far and the memorial expected to be completed by next summer.

“You don’t imagine that someone would violates a memorial,” Coeur d’Alene Police Sergeant Christie Wood said. “And the day before 9-11 when the entire community is going to respect and honor those we’ve lost.  We actually have someone who would come out and do such a vile act?”

In addition to the memorial the vandals attempted to set two nearby bathrooms on fire.

All day Wednesday crews power washed the damaged basalt column, trying to clean it off, while detectives have been examining evidence – including beer cans – left behind at the scene they hope will point them toward the suspects.

“It’s just very disappointing that people don’t have any respect for their community when they do this,” Deputy Fire Chief Lauper said.

The city plans on moving forward with its scheduled memorial service Thursday morning, which marks the seven year anniversary of the attacks.

“The 9/11 attacks shook our nation to its core. The Memorial helps us heal. The Police and Fire Department are saddened by the vandalism to the memorial but we will persevere in our goal to open the Fallen Heroes Plaza by July 2009,” Coeur d’Alene Police Captain Steve Childers said in a written statement.

The 8 a.m. service on Thursday will also mark the groundbreaking for the Fallen Memorial Plaza in Cherry Hill Park.