Queens leaders condemn desecration of Vietnam veterans memorial in Elmhurst Park

Councilman Robert Holden and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz survey the damage at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elmhurst Park. (Photo courtesy of Holden’s office)

The anger was palpable after one or more vandals struck the Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elmhurst Park.

City Councilman Robert Holden and Queens District Attorney surveyed the damage as Parks Department workers remediated the hate-filled graffiti scrawled on the memorial, which was reported to police on Wednesday, June 2. The memorial pays tribute to 371 service members from the borough who lost their lives during the conflict.

“I am deeply disgusted and outraged by this cowardly act of vandalism on the Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This is an attack on those who gave their lives for our country and it will not be tolerated,” Holden said. “It is also an attack on our NYPD, and even religious faith itself.”

The first borough-wide memorial for Vietnam veterans was built on the site of the old Elmhurst gas tanks at a cost of $2.85 million providing a dignified tribute to those lost in the conflict including those that were classified as missing in action.

“I am working with the men and women of the NYPD 110th Precinct to make sure the perpetrator is brought to justice,” Holden said. “I offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever committed this shameful crime.”

(Photo courtesy of Holden’s office)

The graffiti included references to God, and “baby killers,” as well as a swastika over a 110, presumably for the 110th Precinct, leading Holden to view the vandalism as an attack on police and religion.

Katz was a driving force behind the memorial when she served as borough president.

“The attack on this memorial, in this park, is a foul, criminal act. This is the only Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Queens that pays homage to all the fallen service men and women from this borough. It exists as a place where we can all reflect and pay tribute,” Katz said. “I am proud to have worked in partnership with our Parks Department and the members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 to design and construct this wonderful jewel that honors the memories of those who gave their lives in service to their country. We will work in cooperation with the NYPD to hold accountable those responsible for this obscenity.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo called the act a desecration and directed the state police to assist in the investigation into “this disgusting act of vandalism,” while vowing to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Inscribed on the walls of the Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial are are 371 names — 371 proud children of Queens who gave their lives in service of freedom and democracy half a century ago,” Cuomo said. “These names are an eternal monument to the ideals that unite us as New Yorkers and as Americans, values that are worth fighting and dying for. That’s why the memorial’s desecration with graffiti and hateful symbols, coming just two days after Memorial Day, isn’t just offensive to the memories of these soldiers and to their loved ones — it’s antithetical to the moral fiber of our state and our country, and it’s an insult to all those who stepped up in service of it.”

(Photo courtesy of Holden’s office)
(Photo courtesy of Holden’s office)

State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. called the vandalism a disgusting crime.

“On the heels of Memorial Day, a time when we reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women in the armed forces that gave their lives protecting the freedoms that we enjoy each day, we should be honoring these fallen soldiers, not wiping away hateful words and symbols from their memorial site,” Addabbo said. “I will work with the police department to help in any way I can to ensure that the perpetrators of this heinous crime committed at this memorial are brought to justice.”

A police spokesperson told QNS that there have been no arrests in connection with the vandalism and an investigation is ongoing.