Is there redemption for a teenager who defaced a war memorial?
Sort of a loaded question in the title, and I'm not even sure how I would answer it.
DANVILLE — Jared Vance was 18 when he and friends took spray paint cans and defaced the All Wars Memorial in Danville, angering hundreds in the veterans community. On Thursday night, he stood in front of about 100 of those same people, and apologized.
“I recognize that my wrongful actions damaged not only the All Wars Memorial, but something valuable and sacred and important to all of you,” Vance said.
Dressed in a dark sweater in slacks, his dark hair in a bun, Vance, himself an Eagle Scout, mostly looked down during his three-minute apology. The audience filled with veterans groups, some bearing their military insignia, were silent during his speech but applauded when he was done. Some went to shake his hand afterward, several hugged him.
Here is the apology itself:
I'm befuddled that a kid who attained the rank of Eagle Scout could do something so completely idiotic.
At least for those present, they appeared to appreciate his apology:
“It must have been very difficult for you to come here tonight,” said Bill Picton, the president of the All Wars Memorial board. “And in doing so, I believe you’ve taken a very significant step toward becoming the man we hope and believe you will be.” [,,,]
Gary Sponseller, a Vietnam War veteran and member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, said he was satisfied with the apology.
“I’m not one that believes in restorative justice, but if it can save one person and put him on the right path, then that’s good,” he said.
He also suggested Vance could benefit from the structure of joining the military himself.
I have to agree with Gary here, that the military might do this kid some good.
I'm the last person in the world to say that you can't find redemption after stupid acts, Lord knows as a kid I acted like a jackass more times than I care to admit. But what do y'all think? It seems to me that the punishment here is exactly the kind of thing that the judicial system should be doing. Not just punish the young man, but make him see why it hurt the veterans so much by having him volunteer with them.
For my part, I wish him well, and hope that he can atone for this one horrifically misguided act. But I can also appreciate others who might not be as forgiving.