Monument honoring fallen service members destroyed by vandalism replaced in time for Memorial Day

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- It greets all those who pass by and enter the Veterans Memorial Building in Visalia.

"That monument symbolizes those who have not come back, those that have gone to war," said Visalia Memorial District manager Susan Sirken.

A bronze statue of a soldier's boot, a helmet, dog tags, and a firearm form a cross as a symbol honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.

Vietnam Veteran and board chairman Dennis Sirken said now they can be remembered every day.

"We lost a lot of our friends in combat, both my generation and today's generation," he said. "To have the monument back, it helps in the healing process."

But this isn't the first memorial they've had. About a year ago, a replica was vandalized.

The act was caught on camera. The suspect vigorously bashed it against the floor.

Susan Sirken says it was heartbreaking.

"It was like they were taking that military person and just pummeling them on the ground and it just ripped me apart," she said.

A nonprofit organization in San Diego heard the news and was just as horrified.

It decided to step up and recreate the monument free of charge. The monument once made out of fiberglass is now made from bronze.

"To have it returned means a lot to me as well as a lot of veterans," Dennis said.

The vandal was never caught, but that won't stop the Veterans District from honoring the fallen.

Since the vandalism, the building has upgraded its security camera system.

They also say they plan on installing light sensors to the memorial and a security camera to the base of it.
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