Saturday, November 1, 2008

Piatt Memorial park vandalized...

On January 16th, 1965, a KC135 Tanker enroute to McConnell Air Force Base crashed into the Wichita neighborhood near 20th and Piatt. 23 residents and 7 crewmen from the tanker were killed.

The area where the tanker crashed was kept clear and converted into a park. But the only memorial to the victims of this horrific event was located some miles away at McConnell AFB. And so it was for more than 40 years.

Then at long last, in 2007 a beautiful memorial was erected in honor of those who met such an untimely demise. Many of the residents from 1965; some still current residents of the area, others merely visiting, were on hand for the unveiling and dedication of this beautiful tribute.

And now, not even two full years since the dedication, it has been reported that the park has been vandalized. 4 of the 5 benches that were erected as a part of the memorial have been broken and or removed by vandals.

It pains my heart to think that we have some in our own community who are so disconnected from our history and legacy that we would wantonly dishonor and destroy the peace of our community, our property, and even our monuments. It is a shameful indictment not only of those who were responsible for the acts of destruction, but also of all of us in their charge...

The Wichita NAACP Youth Advisor, Kenya Cox, often refers to the state of our community as our own personal 'Katrina'. We sit idly by own our own personal rooftops, surrounded by a rising tide of dysfunction. There are no helicopters, there are no boats, there is no cavalry riding to the rescue. If we are to be saved, we are going to have to save ourselves...

We simply must do more to inspire the disaffected. We must do more to reconnect our youth to a vision of our better selves. We must stop being afraid of our own children and meet them where they are. We must demand that they reach for their potential and hold ourselves accountable for their success. And we must do it now...

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