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Vandals Destroy Vietnam Memorial In Durham

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DURHAM — A monument that honors Durham men and women who served in Vietnam was the target of vandals on a joy ride.

The $70,000 Vietnam monument that stood for peace was mowed down early Tuesday morning and left in pieces. The monument was Jerond Belton and his fellow Durham veterans' dream. Belton designed it himself.

"This is my heart. It's something that we fought for," he says. "This took a lot of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears."

Belton usually tends to the monument three or four times a week. He says the vandalism makes him feel like an unwelcomed Vietnam veteran all over again.

"I know we got to move on, but I just hate that we still have people walking on this earth who would do something like this," he says.

Durham police are on the case. They want to catch whoever took a front-end loader to the monument, toppling the symbol of the little black testament Vietnam veterans carried with them during the war.

Johnny Ford, the city's Parks and Recreation director, says the front-end loader was being used on a construction project at the Edison Johnson Recreation Center.

"The message is if we catch who did it, we will prosecute," he says. "Hopefully, we will be able to address some of the concerns that we have with the contractor and making sure the equipment is secured."

Ford says the city will work with the veterans to help rebuild the monument. The veterans hope to have the momument repaired by Memorial Day.