For more than two months, a World War I monument honoring local residents who were killed during that conflict, along with the headstones of two individuals, have lain on the ground, broken, at Oakdale Cemetery.
That’s far too long, and it’s time for the city, which oversees the cemetery, to step forward and repair the damage.
The monument, along with headstones for the graves of Charles Lowry and Frank Lowry, were knocked off their foundations in what police are saying was a hit-and-run incident on May 17.
A local man, Bradley Dean Holder, 20, of Quesinberry Lane, has been charged in the incident. If he is found guilty, then make no mistake, the fault rests with Quesinberry. And so should the ultimate cost of the needed repair work.
The problem is no one knows, at this point, who is legally liable for the damage. According to city officials, Holder was driving someone else’s car at the time of the alleged incident. There is some question as to whether he had borrowed the car with permission of the owner, borrowed the car without permission, or simply stolen the vehicle.
The answer to those questions, presumably, will determine if the cost of the repairs comes out of his pocket (if he’s found guilty) or from the insurance company representing the legal owner of the vehicle.
Officials also have indicated that Holder, if he is found guilty, may be ordered to make restitution for the repairs by the court — though his court date isn’t until Aug. 28, and there’s no guarantee it won’t be continued beyond that.
Which leaves us back at waiting weeks, maybe months, with the damaged monument and grave stones were they rest, toppled over on the ground.
Mount Airy can do better.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners should immediately have city crews undertake the repairs. The legal wrangling over who pays the bill will eventually be resolved, but to wait until then is disrespectful to the men whose names are on that monument — men who gave their lives for the nation — and equally lacking of respect to Charles Lowry and Frank Lowry and their families.
The work might mean the city is out of pocket a few thousand dollars for a couple of months, but Mount Airy throws a lot of money around at wasteful and fruitless projects, so the city has the cash in its coffers. At least this would be a justified, meaningful expense. And one that is overdue.