Purple Heart recipient appalled by memorial defacing

Veterans Memorial in downtown Albany still has remnants of shoe polish left after defacing. / Jessica Fairley

Albany's Vietnam Veterans Memorial was vandalized over the weekend.

The man who came up with the idea for the structure and constructed the design says he's saddened by the crime.

John Griffin, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient, remembers the memorial's dedication ceremony back in 1989.

He says from start to finish, it was Georgia's veterans who made the memorial possible. Everything from the drafting and designs, to the materials, and the labor was done by those who served in the Vietnam War.

"I was real proud of everyone there and for this to come upon us at this time just a few days away from memorial day is a disgrace," says John Griffin, Vietnam War Veteran and Monument Designer.

Vandals took to the symbol of honor with shoe polish, marking out the names of those who served.

"It made me cry I was so mad and luckily I was here where I wouldn't go out to try and hurt somebody," says John Griffin.

Other war vets say they understand his pain.

"It's pretty hurtful and I think it's pretty disrespectful. A lot of time people don't take into thought what a lot of veterans have done," says Dennis Young, a veteran and businessman.

Although the monument has been cleaned, there are still remnants of shoe polish left behind.

Those with Albany's Recreation and Parks Department say they want to have this monument back in pristine shape.

With Memorial Day around the corner, they say they would like to speed up the cleanup, but at this late of a date promises can't be made.

"It will depend on when the monument company can come in and look at that and let us know how to make sure that it is cleaned up and that the remnants of the shoe polish that they can't get off is removed," says Suzanne Davis, Director for the Albany Department of Recreation and Parks.

Griffin says it's a sad day when those who fought and died for the country are disregarded by those who reap the freedoms.

Investigators with the Albany Police Department are still looking into the crime.