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Who knocked over the soldier statue?

This statue of an American G.I. once proudly stood in Centennial Park as a memorial to Oxford’s fallen soldiers. Right now, it’s laying on its back in the old fire hall after a vandal(s) pried it off its base last week. (click for larger version)
August 03, 2011 - Centennial Park's silent guardian literally fell victim to a crime last week.

Some unknown person or persons pried the life-size statue depicting an American G.I. in the midst of battle off of its decorative base and left it laying in the bushes.

"Those soldiers fought for everybody's rights, but destruction of property is not one of them," said Jim Parkhurst, a past commander of Oxford American Legion Post 108.

It was the various veterans groups based at Post 108 that originally paid approximately $2,500 for the statue and donated it to the village for placement in the downtown park.

Erected in summer 2005, the statue is meant to honor the 44 soldiers from Oxford who died in conflicts ranging from the Civil War to Vietnam. Their names are all listed on a plaque mounted to the statue's base.

Kathy Hummel, a member of the Oxford Garden Club, discovered the fallen statue on the morning of Wednesday, July 27, according to village Manager Joe Young.

The statue doesn't appear to have sustained any major damage. It was placed in the old fire hall behind the village offices for safekeeping until it can be reattached to its base.

Village police are investigating the incident. A pair of sunglasses with a possible fingerprint was found at the scene.

Police Chief Mike Neymanowski said the sunglasses are "unique" as they are mirrored with simulated diamonds around the frames.

Police are checking into whether any of the businesses around the park that have security cameras caught the perpetrator(s) on tape.

As both a proud veteran and the person who spearheaded the memorial statue project, Parkhurst was understandably upset.

"It makes you mad," he said. "I look at it this way – what goes around, comes around. Someday they're going to have to meet those 44 men whose names are on that plaque . . . They're going to have to meet their Maker and answer for that."

On the surface, the incident appears to be a case of malicious destruction of property, but Parkhurst wonders if someone was attempting to steal the statue in order to turn a quick buck.

"They may have thought that it was a bronze statue," he explained. "Maybe they thought they could cut it up for scrap, sell it and make about a $1,000."

If that's the case, then whoever did this must have been sorely disappointed. Although the statue is bronze in color, it's not made of metal. The color is only paint.

The statue is actually made of resin, a special blend of natural marble and high-tech liquid bonding agents.

Parkhurst is hopeful that whoever did this will either turn themselves in or get caught by the village police. He noted the statue isn't just a memorial to the 44 Oxford soldiers who gave their lives in battle; it's a tribute to all "the guys who have lost their lives for this country and given all of their tomorrows."

It also serves as a visible reminder of war's true nature. "The statue shows what the soldier looks like in combat," Parkhurst said. "It shows what he went through to protect our freedoms and our liberties."

"War is not a pretty thing," he continued. "It's actually an ugly thing. Nobody wins at war itself. When you go to war, you lose friends, family and neighbors. That soldier shows the ugliness of war itself."

If anyone has any information about this crime, they are encouraged to call the Oxford Village Police Department at (248) 628-2525.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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