Hampton's Lady by the Sea monument defaced

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State officials working to remove graffiti

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, August 19, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
Vandals have spraypainted graffiti on the
Lady of the Sea Marine Memorial at Hampton Beach.

HAMPTON -- Local residents are outraged a vandal or a group of vandals has defaced the Lady of the Sea Marine Memorial at Hampton Beach with a spray-painted image of square-figured man waving his hand.

The statue, which was created by the late Alice E. Cosgrove, serves as a memorial for all New Hampshire sons and daughters lost or buried at sea during World War II.

The graffiti was discovered three weeks ago on the bench that bears the list of names of those who have died at sea. The area surrounding the old Lady By the Sea monument across the street from the Ashworth by the Sea Hotel had recently be redone as part of the $14.5 million redevelopment project at Hampton Beach.

"It's sad that someone came down with a $3 dollar can of spray paint and ruined it," said Ralph Fatello, Commander of the American Legion Post 35.

"It's an absolute disgrace and must be fixed immediately."

Fatello has already notified New Hampshire State Parks Department officials to see if they can expedite cleaning the monument.

Amy Bassett, spokesperson for N.H. state parks, said officials are aware of the graffiti.

"We are working on trying to get that cleaned up," Bassett said on Wednesday. "Our state park staff is trying to remove it and we are also working on obtaining a service contract with a private vender to remove graffiti when it happens."

Fatello said he doesn't know why someone would desecrate a monument that means so much to so many people.

"I want to believe who ever did this didn't know what they were doing or why the monument was there," Fatello said. "But the fact they didn't know what it was is a crime in itself."

Linda Gebhart, of the Hampton Beach Beautification Committee, said this isn't the first time graffiti has defaced the beach this summer. She has filed numerous complaints dating back to Memorial Day weekend.

"The last straw to me was the Marine Memorial," Gebhart said.

Fatello said the monument is a special place for veterans in the community as they perform a Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances there every year.

Selectman Mike Pierce — who served in the Navy— said he hopes whoever is responsible will be caught and brought to justice.

"I think it's totally disrespectful to graffiti anything but a monument honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their county should be respected," Pierce said.

The monument was originally dedicated at the beach on May 30, 1957.

It came about after William E. Downs of Manchester pushed to have a monument memorizing all New Hampshire sons and daughters lost or buried at sea in defense of their country.

It was his son, William D. Downs, that he set out originally to honor.

After his son was buried at sea in 1945, Downs was surprised to learn the federal government could not — or would not— furnish a grave marker to honor his son's life and death.

In 1950, New Hampshire Gov. Sherman Adams answered Downs call and created a New Hampshire Marine Memorial Commission, which selected Hampton Beach across from the Ashworth Hotel as the site for the memorial.

The words from the poem by John Gay, written in 1714, in his "An Epistle to a Lady" are inscribed at the base of the statue as a tribute to not only the son of William E. Downs, but to all those lost or buried at sea during World War II. The inscription reads: "Breathe soft, ye winds, Ye waves in silence rest."

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