Willamette National Cemetery is in the Portland, Oregon area. It currently has 133,174 Veterans interred. Among these are four Medal of Honor winners - Lieutenant Colonel Stanley T. Adams (Korea) U.S. Army, 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Sesim-ni, Korea, Feb. 4, 1951, First Lieutenant Arnold L. Bjorklund (World War II) U.S. Army, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, Altavilla, Italy, Sept. 13, 1943, Specialist 4th Class Larry G. Dahl (Vietnam) U.S. Army, 359th Transportation Company, 27th Transportation Battalion, U.S. Support Command, An Khe, Binh Dinh Province, Republic of Vietnam, Feb. 23, 1971, Sergeant 1st Class Loren R. Kaufman (Korea) U.S. Army, Company G, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Yongsan, Korea, Sept. 4 & 5, 1950. Also interred is a young man from our town, LCpl Randy Newman, a Marine who lost his life in Iraq in 2006, along with many other Oregonians who have fallen in the Great War on Terror.
This beautiful place has suddenly become yet another Military Cemetery defiled by the the greedy and the disrespectful. Recently and on three different occassions, vandals, called ‘metal thieves’ by law enforcement, went into the cemetery and stripped the copper gutters, downspouts and roofing from the shelters used during burials. Additionally, brass name plates and metal urns have been stolen.
When I heard about this I was outraged. When I began to research this I was shocked to find most cemeteries are being vandalized in this way, including our National Cemeteries.
Most metal recyclers are ‘unaware’ that these items are being purchased by them, though they do identify them and contact the police on occassion.
In addition to our cemeteries, our history is being stolen and sold. Recently the Bronze statue of Sacagawea was stolen from the end of the Lewis and Clark trail, destroyed by being cut up and sold as scrap. Historical markers are being stolen. The marker to honor Rex T Barber, the man who shot down Admiral Yamamoto, was stolen.
What has happened to our country that these sacred things are treated like trash?