VIENNA, Va ., December 28, 2013 — One of the only monuments in the country specifically dedicated to the service of African American soldiers in the Civil War was damaged by gunfire yesterday, apparently the result of a running gunfight between youth on the plaza versus those in a passing car.
According to police, no one was injured, but the beautiful monument erected in 1998 and with panels listing the 209,145 men who served the Union as soldiers and sailors during the war was hit by several of the estimated 60 shots and panels were slightly damaged.
The incident appeared to begin when young people attending a ball at a nearby fraternal lodge were exiting the building. As they spilled out of the buidling, a car bearing other young men passed, and the first shot was fired. At least one 9 mm shell has been found, but there is no information from the Metro Police as to other potential evidence.
Since the monument and a nearby museum are located on U Street in what is familiarly known as the U Street Corridor, a heavily African American area, it is a double tragedy that the damage was inflicted by youth who are perhaps descendants of the soldiers and sailors honored on the monument, and who obviously have no interest or reverence in the service of these men who served.
On the other hand, Museum Director Frank Smith said today that they “just got through trying to obliterate some damage from young white skate boarders in the area who have caused marks on the surrounding walkways. It seems to be inflicted by both races,“ Smith said.
Smith talked with sculptor Ed Hamilton of Louisville, Ky. last night about the necessity of repairs. Even minor ones such as those on the monuments panels will require special treatment. “When you have damage on congruent panels which have to be replaced, you have to deal with the problem of the loss of patina on the older ones,” he remarked, assuring everyone that “the monument will be repaired.”
Another Kentucky connection is that one of the panels involved represents the men of the 121st Regiment, Colored Infantry, raised in Maysville, Ky.
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