In October 2013, then 21-year old Jessica McCrickard broke the bayonet off the World War I monument in Lynchburg, Virginia. She said that she broke it “accidentally” and threw the broken piece into the James River.

That Memorial features a side-view of a doughboy in bronze holding his rifle fitted with a bayonet in his right hand (see featured image). The names of the men from Lynchburg who lost their lives and the names of the units that participated in that conflict are inscribed on surrounding stone panels.

McCrickard got a plea deal that required her to spend four Fridays with veterans at “Support our Troops” rallies in downtown Lynchburg. But that was apparently too much for her.

Tuesday, a judge in Virginia added to her sentence after the veterans complained that she had a “disrespectful attitude.” The judge told her to write the 276 names on the monument by hand and to serve an additional 100 hours of community service by August 31.

There are no living World War I veterans; Frank Buckles, the last U.S veteran of that conflict, died at the age of 110 in 2011. Buckles drove an ambulance in France and escorted German prisoners of war in WWI; a merchant seaman, he was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines and spent three years as a prisoner of war in World War II.

The next year, Florence Green, who served in the British Women’s Air Corps and worked as an Officer’s Mess Steward at air bases in England, died at the age of 111.

Maybe, if McCrickard knew more about that war and the American contribution to the Allied victory, she’d be more respectful. About how the 3d Infantry Division became known as the “Rock of the Marne,” and how, after being urged by the French to withdraw from their defensive positions near Lucy-le-Bocage, Marine Captain Lloyd Williams reputedly said, “Retreat? Hell, we just got here!” American forces helped to repel the final German assault in 1918 at places like Chemin des Dames, Chateau Thierry, and Belleau Wood.


The bravery displayed by our forces makes McCrickard’s vandalism and “disrespectful attitude” hard to understand. Where did it come from and how can we get rid of it?


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