Vandals Target Billboard Honoring Marines In OKC

Monday, May 21st 2012, 9:39 pm
By: News 9

Vandalism on a metro billboard is stirring up strong emotion. A billboard honoring the Marines and their sacrifice for our country is now covered with graffiti. It is located on the east side of I-35 just north of the I-240 interchange.

The vandalism has people shaking their heads in shock and disbelief. It also has people asking, why would anyone think of doing anything less than honoring the men and women risking their lives for the United States.

It's an ad for the Marines showing perhaps the most famous picture to come from the World War II Pacific theatre. The billboard shows the iconic picture taken at Iwo Jima, Japan where nearly 7,000 American soldiers lost their lives.

"To disrespect them in that manner is just really sad, and it's very upsetting," Oklahoma City resident Tamara Griffin said.

Veterans shared Griffin's thoughts.

"These people are giving their lives … some of them are not making it back, and that's the ultimate sacrifice," Vietnam veteran Michael Cline said. "To dishonor them is like … dishonoring the flag and your country."

Cline is the incoming commander of VFW post 9265 in southwest Oklahoma City. He served in Vietnam and remembers the disrespect shown to him and his comrades returning home in the 1970s. Decades later, the disrespect continues. He has also experienced vandalism at his own post.

"People in this neighborhood have no respect for the military or the veterans," Cline said. "It gets old quick."

Cline says the graffiti he has encountered is mostly gang symbols.

Police say it is up to the owner of the billboard honoring the Marines to remove the graffiti. The billboard is owned by Lamar Advertising. News 9 called Lamar to ask how long it will take for the spray paint to be removed, but News 9's calls were not returned. Lamar Advertising's phone number in Oklahoma City is (405)-528-2683.