Members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 spent last Saturday sprucing up the area of a garden off of 88th Street in Glendale, placing American flags and flags commemorating POWs along a fence while cleaning up litter and trash.
Then, early Monday morning, someone spray-painted “Free Palestine” on a large American flag.
“Police have been notified; making report as Vandalism as a hate crime,” Chapter 32 said in an email. The email stated there is a video of a man painting the flag at about 4:30 a.m. while walking a dog.
“We heard about it this morning,” said Paul Feddern of Chapter 32, who was down at the site Monday afternoon along with Michael O’Kane, also of Chapter 32.
That fence runs along the northern side of the freight railroad tracks just north of 76th Avenue. The cleanup and adorning of the fence with flags were a prelude to Memorial Day ceremonies at various sites in mid- and central Queens this coming weekend.
Everything looked Monday as it did when the group of volunteers left on Saturday — the smaller flags along the fence at regular intervals and Old Gory fully unfurled between banners honoring two sets of American heroes — one welcoming veterans home and the other paying tribute to frontline and essential workers who carried the nation through the Covid-19 pandemic. Bags of trash sat in a row, waiting to be picked up.
But the American flag had been vandalized with red paint.
“I don’t know why they did that,” Feddern said. “We don’t have an Israeli flag up here. We don’t have a Palestinian flag.”
O’Kane said to him it makes no difference if the vandal was a true believer in the Palestinian cause or just a mindless person pulling what he or she might consider a prank.
“It’s disgusting,” he said.
Both said the veterans intend to replace the flag once police have taken all necessary photographs and reports.