A steady stream of Washingtonville residents stopped by the Washingtonville 5 Firefighters World Trade Center Memorial Thursday to pay their respects after its 25-ft. flagpole was cut down and sprayed with graffiti sometime overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.
"They took the eagle that was on top of the flagpole and they brought it over to the St. Mary’s Parish property where they also did damage to that sign," said Washingtonville Mayor Joseph Bucco.
The memorial made of solid granite stands in honor of five FDNY firefighters who lived in Washingtonville who perished in the 9/11 attacks. Washingtonville resident Joe Zaccaro decided to create the memorial in 2002 to honor the men, and for like many others in this community, the vandalism of the memorial has been heartbreaking.
"It was like a punch to the stomach," said Zaccaro. "I was just so upset and I started getting a bunch of text messages and emails from a lot of people from our town.
Local police, state police, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, and the FBI are investigating the motive and who could be behind it. There’s now a $5,500 reward for any information leading to an arrest.
"They picked the wrong village to do something like this," said Mayor Bucco.
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney also stopped by to pay their respects.
"You just wonder who would do such a stupid thing, but what we were just talking to the mayor about is how they picked the wrong community and this community is going to come together like never before," said Rep. Maloney.
Residents placed American flags around the memorial to show their support and another flagpole has been placed where the old one fell. A brand new flagpole will be installed soon.
"I knew this was not going to stop us. I knew that our community was so strong that we're going to make it even better than it was before," said Zaccaro.