Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cemetery Crime Thursday - Waco, Texas

EDITORIAL: Oakwood Cemetery vandalism reminds us again of our era's hate, violence |

The mere act of cemetery vandalism must outrage, whether it hits a rural graveyard populated by individuals whose labors are long forgotten or one rich in history such as Waco’s Oakwood Cemetery, which suffered random destruction sometime late Friday or early Saturday. But to better grasp the cost, well beyond initial damage estimates of up to $150,000, consider the ties binding the dead, the bereaved and any self-respecting, decent community.

Consider the imposing Oakwood memorial to Texas Gov. Richard Coke (1829-1897), a soldier, judge and U.S. senator whose remains rest not far from where a Confederate flag flapped gently in the breeze Monday. The old gent’s full-form statue is elevated enough on a pedestal that the vandals obviously decided it wasn’t worth the effort to destroy it. But the sculpted busts of the governor’s two sons, one on each side of his pedestal, were knocked from their perches and seriously damaged — Jack Coke (1857-1880), a “devoted son,” according to the inscription left by mourners, and Richard Coke (1869-1899), “a loving and affectionate son.”

And what excuse can one offer to any jury for knocking the hands off an angel presiding over the graves of the Cooper clan, including Madison Cooper Jr., who not only figures mightily in Texas letters but created a local foundation that gives back greatly to this community — most recently through a group helping ex-offenders re-integrate into society upon release from prison.

Waco police are right: Outraged citizens make terrific witnesses. Let’s hope this fact spurs consequences, and soon. Till then, we as a community are left to ponder this latest act of senselessness in an era increasingly defined by its bellicosity, hate and destruction — enough that it is visited even upon the departed, the bereaved and history itself.

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