Mindless vandalism

The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate not just America but also what ties us together as families and as a community.

Little did we know we would also spend it wondering what could drive someone to commit mindless vandalism. To see the American flags on the North Mianus Bridge torn down and the flagpoles snapped was a bit of a gut punch to us and a reminder that sometimes for no good reason whatsoever people like to do mindless, offensive things.

It’s easy to go over the top with outrage. Anger makes mountains out of molehills as nothing else can. But in this case the anger is justified and the reaction from the community has been fair and measured. No one overreacted or started hurling accusations. There was anger, yes, but also sadness that something like this could even happen. Why would someone go out of their way to destroy something that brings joy and comfort to people?

This was no accident. A person, or people, went out with the deliberate intent to destroy, and put in hard work to make it happen. This is not like smashing a pumpkin at Halloween. This required tools and time and effort. It’s sad that anyone could put so much work into being destructive, especially when these flags serve as a testament to patriotism and community spirit.

But it was that community spirit we all saw firsthand when the members of the Cos Cob Volunteer Fire Co. got to work and replaced those missing flags before many even knew they were gone. It’s the spirit that led people to volunteer the use of their personal flags and even give the firefighters money to help with the replacement.

It’s incidents like this that show people’s true colors. There are people who rally together to preserve things that are good. And there are those who sneak around in the dark of night to destroy and damage.

We don’t know why this happened. We don’t know what was in the hearts and minds of the person or people responsible. Was this done because of some previously unknown strain of anti-Americanism in Greenwich? Probably not. This probably was not a political statement or from someone who is somehow offended by the sight of the American flag.

The simple truth is that some people are just malicious. These are the people who smash gravestones for no good reason other than that they can, or the kinds who break church windows or paint swastikas on synagogues. They’re not anti-Semitic or desecrating because they want to make some grand statement. They’re just angry and destructive and find pleasure is destroying the things that give comfort and joy to others.

We hope police find whoever is responsible, not for over-the-top punishment or public pillorying. but so they learn acts like this have an impact. You can’t go around destroying things just because you feel you can. That belief is nothing but spoiled immaturity, and we hope whoever did this grows out of it fast.

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