9-11 Flag Tree Memorial Vandalized

Vandals throw paint at Howard Lasher's flag tree memorial.

Acrylic craft paint was squirted across a Dodgingtown flag memorial created in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and lights illuminating the landmark were destroyed sometime during the overnight hours, police and Howard Lasher, the owner of the property said.

"When – not if – the police catch the people that did this, I will do everything that I can to make sure they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law," Lasher said. "This is not just the tree. This represent what thousands of people who lost their lives for."

Paint of various colors – including blue and yellow – were squirted across the the flag part of the mural, officials said. Lights that were trained on the memorial also were smashed, police said.

Since the vandalism was first discovered at 68 Dodgingtown Road, members of the Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Department responded and using fire hose was able to remove a substantial amount of the paint, although some remnants of the damage remained. Lasher said his electrician, who discovered the vandalism, also has since replaced the bulbs that were smashed.

The vandalism occurred sometime between 3 p.m., Tuesday and 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, when it was discovered, according to Newtown police who are investigating the incident. However, Lasher said that the flag still appeared intact at 10 p.m. and so the vandalism likely occurred after that.

The flag memorial was created in honor of some of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. This year marks its 10th anniversary.

"It's absolutely despicable," Lasher said of the vandalism. "It's been there for 10 years and there's never been a scratch."

The vandalism also occurred on a day that Pearl Harbor was attacked, a coincidence that was not lost on Lasher, although he said he believed there was no significance in the timing.

"It's an icon in our community," he said of the flag. "The entire community is proud of it and what it represents and I cannot feel more anger right now."

David Merrill, the local artist who created the memorial, said he planned to visit the site, inspect the damage and begin work on its repair as soon as possible.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Newtown police at 203-426-5841.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more quotes, information on when the vandalism may have occurred and steps already taken to repair some of the damage.

Correction: The memorial was created in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. An earlier version of this article incorrectly worded the reason for the memorial.

yoda December 09, 2011 at 01:11 AM
What I have learned from this despicable act is that no one can, or ever will break my American spirit that I hold so dare to my heart.
NewtownMark December 09, 2011 at 02:00 AM
Wise you are
Carol December 09, 2011 at 02:27 AM
It breaks my heart to see what someone has done to Howard's memorial. I know how devastated he is. This beautiful memorial has become a part of my life and so many others in the area. My heart goes out to the Lashers and to all who feel so strongly about what the memorial stands for. I truly hope the person/people who did this will be punished.
Sam Mihailoff December 09, 2011 at 02:36 AM
whether caught and/or punished...there is a thing called Karma and conscience. I fully intend to knock on Mr. Lasher's door and give some money for touch-up paint (not that he needs or may want it). Even though now battle scarred, I feel the same burst of pride when I drive up Route 302 as I do when I reach the top of Church Hill Road...GOD BLESS AMERICA
yoda December 09, 2011 at 11:28 AM
God bless America Land that I loveStand beside her And guide her Through the night With the light From above.
Sam Mihailoff December 09, 2011 at 11:31 AM
nice, but a wee bit out of tune Go ahead "G" and "Sully"....yell at me
Mary Thomas December 09, 2011 at 01:49 PM
How I wish Patch required full names from posters. Robin's comments make my blood go from boiling to cold. To think that someone could react to the 9/11's memorial desecration with that attitude is frightening. I think the tragedy of September 11 has made a deep and lasting effect on people and that the country will never be the same. To think that this person Robin lives beside us generates a new kind of terror in me.
Dan Gaita December 09, 2011 at 01:55 PM
Well, now that the vandals have had time to brag and share their story of cowardly triumph it is probably about time to ask Mr. Lasher to post the videos online of the vandals committing the crime. After all, Mr. Lasher has about 20 night vision surveillance cameras on his property. Those cameras that were located near the trees also picked up the audio of the idiots having a grand old time defacing the trees and destroying the lights. Many of us already know who did it from the video footage and can't wait to see how they react to handcuffs, criminal trespassing charges, vandalism, and perhaps even committing a hate crime. Once the police and courts are done with them, I look forward to seeing how some other patriotic, combat veteran residents administer some additional justice. You know who you are, and so do we. Mr. Lasher, please allow me to be present when the videos are shown to the idiots in person. I can't wait. On the other hand, I understand Mr. Lasher is waiting for others to do the right thing and report them to the police. I respect his restraint in administering justice, but I find it hard to wait for others to take a stand when the very clear video footage and audio is evidence enough. Talk to you real soon. I can't wait to see their faces.
Dan Gaita December 09, 2011 at 02:12 PM
To Robin: Remember, it is because of patriots that have died in defense of this nation that you are free to post comments like the one you did above. I can assure you, the countries that I served in would most likely have served your head on a platter, posted a video of your demise, and danced all over your lifeless body. We here in America defend your right to speak and blog freely, but don't forget it is a protected privilege that many others across the globe do not enjoy. While America may not always be right, and while many of our elected leaders (both current and past) may have destroyed our economy, global reputation and moral standing, you are still free to express your thoughts and feelings. And others are free to disagree, but no one is free to destroy another persons personal property in the manner that was done to Mr. Lasher. So speak and blogg freely and without fear, but never forget that symbolism in America is what keeps our communities together, it is what coalesces our determination to protect our liberties and yes, it is also how we are empowered to correct the wrongs of our elected leaders and repair our global standing. Freedom has never been Free...
Sam Mihailoff December 09, 2011 at 11:59 PM
...phone rings...lovely, telemarketers....but NO... Mr. Lasher called to thank me...I don't really know what for, I didn't do anything. Beware and consider yourselves forewarned low life's...he is very hurt and VERY ANGRY!!! I came away from the call realizing why he decided to have the memorial constructed and I now view this as a hate crime. Robin, isn’t it great to live in a country where your views and speech are protected? Woody said it best. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxiMrvDbq3s
Karen Visca December 10, 2011 at 02:01 AM
It is just sad and a disgrace that this happened.
Bea Sea December 11, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Robin, you should be ashamed of yourself, "get over it" indeed. Obviously you have never lost anyone like this and obviously you have never had your property vandalized, but I'm concerned that you think it is OK to deface the American Flag, the Flag that protects your right to spout idiocy. I would never wish it on you but Karma has a way...
Sam Mihailoff December 11, 2011 at 02:17 AM
I visited Mr. Lasher very briefy today...the paint has been touched up and the electical boxes and lights to illuminate the trees have been replaced...I hereby nominate Mr. Lasher to win the Holiday Lighting Contest...He uses not just two colors (red & green)...He uses three colors...the RED, WHITE & BLUE
Sam Mihailoff December 11, 2011 at 03:54 AM
G December 11, 2011 at 04:51 AM
Congrats, Sam. Give yourself another pat on the back and a 'Good boy!'. You are indeed a Saint!
Sam Mihailoff December 11, 2011 at 05:05 AM
G.. yup no sarcasm, mean spirit, ridicule, or nastyness with you How's that glass house of yours doin? Are you related to Robin?
G December 11, 2011 at 05:39 AM
Sam- no sarcasm intended nor mean spirit nor ridicule nor nastiness. You deserve a lot of credit for visiting Mr. Lasher and helping out with the cost of the paint (I assume, as you posted that you were planning to do that). It's wonderful that you later received a call from Mr. Lasher to thank you for you contribution (as you also posted). And I think that your nomination of Mr. Lasher's memorial is also very noble ( as you also posted twice I think). I thank you from my heart for the contribution you've made for the paint, and for letting us know how it all went, and what Mr. Lasher's response was. I know I didn't make any contribution for the paint and I now feel that I should have done so. Perhaps next time a circumstance such as this occurs, I can be a better person, and maybe post it all on the local news site on the internet. It's only right that everyone knows all the good deeds I have done so that they can all see what a good person I am. I honestly feel that you deserve a lot of credit, Sam, for visiting Mr. Lasher's home and showing your support and with the paint and all. It's important that he knows that the town supports him in every way. As for Robin, I believe I expressed my disdain for her opinion in this comments section several days ago.
Sam Mihailoff December 11, 2011 at 05:58 AM
never gave the money...he had the repairs done instantaneously ...I merely wanted him to know that there are only a few slugs on this earth. Sorry, if I interpreted your message as I did...but, read it!!! sure did sound like the "G" of yore n'est pas??? NOW, GO VOTE!!!
G December 11, 2011 at 06:07 AM
Sam Mihailoff December 17, 2011 at 05:08 AM
ah "G"...you're true vindictive spirit shines on...skip my apology sarcasm, mean spirit, ridicule, nastyness...today we can add vugarity to your being also Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Vandals...come on my property and you can chat with Mr. Mossberg
Tom Bittman December 17, 2011 at 05:25 AM
I second Susan's post. My family and our son's boy scout troop were at the ceremony, and it was excellent and touching. The vision that Mr. Lasher and Mr. Merrill had continues to inspire many of us. I look forward to hearing that the vandals have been caught and are punished for their crime. More importantly, I look forward to them living through the full disdain and disgust of our community at what they did. There's even a chance - especially if they're young - that they'll learn something really important because of this.
Sam Mihailoff December 17, 2011 at 04:10 PM
"Robin" has changed her spots, now that someone is being deported.....It is quite interesting how that venemous Robin, changes tune when it serves her to do so....someone who has been in the country for 9 years illegally and neither she nor her parents made any effort to either procire legal status much less citizenship....Robin should pack her bags and leave as well since she obviously hold such disdain for this country. Here is Robin's "boo hoo report>>> Robin 10:46 am on Saturday, December 17, 2011 Paulina should have been able to stay based on the fact that she didn't have a choice in coming here in the first place. She is now an adult and should have been given the opportunity to stay here legally. Her family DID try to do things the right way but were taken advantage of by dishonest lawyers who took their money and did not file the paper work that was supposed to be taken care of. Efforts are still going to go on to try and have her legally return to the US. She may have gone to Poland but her home is still here.
Sarah December 18, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Its even funnier and more interesting when someone with such a common name like Sam doesn't understand that there can be more than 1 Robin in the world. They are 2 different people.
yoda December 18, 2011 at 10:25 PM
many robins but only one sam
Sam Mihailoff December 19, 2011 at 01:14 AM
funnier and interesting that I do not hide my identity behind by merely using a "first name ONLY"...So nice of you to run to someone'a defense Sarah "NO NAME"
Sarah December 19, 2011 at 01:31 AM
It's not required to use last names, or even first names for that matter. Anyone can use any name they want, its not against the law so don't you jump down my throat about my name because I was nice enough to inform you of a mistake you made.
Sam Mihailoff December 19, 2011 at 01:35 AM
blah blah blah...sure would negate need for this entire conversation...also nice you are playing defense attorney SARAH
infinithree April 26, 2012 at 12:48 PM
"Once the police and courts are done with them, I look forward to seeing how some other patriotic, combat veteran residents administer some additional justice." So are you saying that our justice system doesn't provide enough justice? You're asking for vigilante justice as well? I don't want to assume that's what you're implying, especially since you seem to imply (why else state "combat veteran" in there) that some physical punishment is in order, so I'm giving you the opportunity to respond...if so, can you tell me where vigilante justice is listed as a part of the American Way? Is that in the Pledge of Allegiance? "And to the Republic, for which it stands, I swear to determine justice, of my own accord, with liberty to harm others because I say so, for only on my watch that is Justice for all"? Frankly, while there is freedom to say anything you want, I find it disturbing that such freedoms are used for nothing better than innuendo and name calling. I'll take moral and kind and compassionate people over your kind of patriotism, any day. Because God knows we shouldn't have to live in a world in which people can care more about paint on a tree, than other people.
Dan Gaita April 26, 2012 at 04:22 PM
While the delayed timing of your reply is interesting, I do feel an obligation to assure clarity with respect to your perspective. 1. The comment I made "Once the police and courts are done with them, I look forward to seeing how some other patriotic, combat veteran residents administer some additional justice." - is not referring to violence, or vigilantism, but rather the continued accountability that Veterans strive to maintain with regard to ensuring that any person who would so maliciously destroy a persons property is remembered for their acts. It would go something like this...."Hey, that is the person who trespassed, and vandalized that tree on Mr. Lashers property...might not want to hire him..or might not want to trust him, or might want to keep him away from your property. Thats is the type of "additional justice" I speak of. So to reiterate - Violence was never the context of my comment - but justice was. The reason "Combat Veteran" was in there is because they have a very unique and differing perspective from those that have been protected from such evil. War is an evil thing, and to have had to endure it with all senses provides a very unique understanding of its ramifications.
Dan Gaita April 26, 2012 at 04:28 PM
In addition, I would like to comment on your remark that: "Frankly, while there is freedom to say anything you want, I find it disturbing that such freedoms are used for nothing better than innuendo and name calling. I'll take moral and kind and compassionate people over your kind of patriotism, any day. Because God knows we shouldn't have to live in a world in which people can care more about paint on a tree, than other people." Let me make it very clear - This is not a matter of putting paint on a persons tree. It is about people that would trespass onto a persons property, damage that persons property and intentionally deface something on that persons property that is of great personal and emotional value. I hope this clears everything up.... So, why the sudden interest in this blogg now?


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