It’s a heck of a way to treat the memory of a Revolutionary War hero, especially this close to Independence Day.
Historian Gary Gianotti said Wednesday that the base of the stone belonging to John Smith, in the oldest part of the cemetery, was spray-painted some time ago with the number “666,” which is typically used to represent demonic spirits or Satan.
A nearby tree was also spray-painted, Gianotti said, and wrought iron gates surrounding the Gulf Street side of the cemetery are damaged or missing. “John Smith was a Revolutionary War soldier; it seems to me that whoever did this, besides doing something stupid to begin with, showed a lack of respect,” the historian said. “It’s been frustrating too because I’ve been trying for a year to get repairs made in the cemetery.
“(Superintendent) Ray Scholl does his best, but his hands are tied.”
Scholl said that the vandalism to Smith’s stone occurred “some time ago” and that the spray paint is on the granite base installed a few years ago, not to the 18th Century brownstone grave marker itself. “We’re considering whether to sandblast the stone or to use a chemical to remove the spray paint,” the superintendent said. “Both have the potential to damage the stone further and the chemical isn’t very pleasant to use besides.”
The iron gates were struck by a car several weeks ago, and will be replaced, Scholl said. “There was a (motor vehicle) accident on Gulf Street. The police were here and did a report.”
The errant motorist’s insurance company will likely pay for the damage, he said. “Nnow we’re just waiting for the paperwork.”