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Vandals Torch Ronald Reagan Monument

TEMECULA – A bronze statue and marble-tile monument in honor of President Ronald Reagan and his belief in American’s can-do spirit has been hit by vandals, who torched the tribute, which destroyed tiles touting Reagan’s words of wisdom and left the likeness of the president tarnished and defaced.before

“Whoever did this, they are obviously not in their right minds, and that pun is not intended,” said Perry Peters, president of the nonprofit Friends of the Ronald Reagan Sports Park, whose 75 or so members spent nearly a decade raising private donations to install the $100,000 monument.

The 1-year-old structure is located in a Southern California park named after the president – Ronald Reagan Sports Park – which earned the esteemed moniker because Reagan touted the park as an example of how Americans can accomplish great things without government handouts. When Temecula residents in the early 1980s needed a park in their town they didn’t look to the government, but their own initiative. The park was built with volunteerism, fundraising, private enterprise and positive attitudes.

Reagan, in a 1983 speech before the United States Olympic Committee, praised that effort, saying:

“The folks in a rather small town, Temecula…got together and built themselves a sports park, held fund-raising barbecues and dinners. And those that didn’t have money, volunteered the time and energy. And now the young people of that community have baseball diamonds for Little League and other sports events, just due to what’s traditional Americanism.”

It was those words that were memorialized in the marble-tile wall of the Temecula park monument, but the inscriptional tiles are trashed, destroyed by the blaze’s intense heat. The bronze statue – a figure of Reagan smiling, donning a yellow shirt and blue jeans and holding a shovel – is discolored and scraped up.Reagan2

The Riverside County Fire Department is investigating the apparent arson, which took place Friday.

Peters, in an interview with The College Fix, said raising $100,000 in the midst of the Great Recession was no easy feat, but no government money paid for the park, and ditto for the monument.

“It was $1,000 here, $100 there, $25 here,” he said. “It was very tough.”

Some larger donations – including from several local businesses and private residents, and even $3,000 from Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) – and it finally came together. The groundbreaking was in 2011, and the monument was dedicated in February 2012.

Members of the nonprofit – and many others in the community – are upset over the vandalism. Peters, 81, has talked to many of those folks, and described people as angry, dismayed, indignant and shocked.

“I don’t think this was random vandalism by kids,” Peters said, adding a few months ago the Reagan statue had been pelted with raw eggs as well. “It may have been done by kids, but it was motivated by people who don’t like Reagan and don’t like his message.”

The monument aims to teach local schoolchildren about the legacy of Reagan and the volunteers who built the park, to tout individual initiative and the can-do spirit of Americans, as the nonprofit likes to point to Reagan’s words that “there is no way to better establish hope for the future than to enlighten young minds.”

To that end, the nonprofit also sponsors school field trips to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, has hosted a slab of the Berlin Wall, and organizes can-do essay contests for local elementary schools.

Peters said the group plans to raise money to repair the damage, as well as buy a few security cameras.

Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix. She lives in Temecula.

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IMAGE CREDITS: Before image – FRRSP/ after images – Jennifer Kabbany

About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. She previously worked as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for a decade in Southern California, and prior to that held editorial positions at The Weekly Standard, Washington Times and FrontPageMagazine. She is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship recipient and has contributed to National Review.

Add to the Discussion

  • mr bill

    The Left touts peace with words but promotes its positions with violence.

    • Nullifidian

      Vandalism is “violence” now?

      • Spiny Norman

        Arson is Peace!

        If someone set your car (or house) ablaze, you wouldn’t think that was violent?

        • Nullifidian

          No, I wouldn’t. That is because I have an understanding of the difference between “property damage” and “violent crime”. Not that I blame you for not grasping the difference yourself when the federal government is on record as pretending that torching a few SUVs is an act of “terrorism”.

          • JimTreacher

            Ahh, an Earth Liberation Front sympathizer…

          • Nullifidian

            No, I’m a surveillance and security state antagonist. The ever-expanding definition of “terrorism” to things that are objectively not only serves to legitimize the use of state power to repress dissent. The government has shown itself willing to go after both the left and right wing using the same rationales. Think Ruby Ridge or the less deadly but no less frightening persecution of Brandon Raub, to name but one recent example. So forgive me if I am not overeager to join in the trend to label everything from property damage to protected speech to feeding homeless people (the Food Not Bombs ‘terrorist’ group) as “terrorism”.

      • Cyberguy64

        Callously destroying something that people worked hard and sacrificed to create. That sounds rather violent to me.

        At the very least, it’s petty and childish. Makes me think of a two year old who knocks down their sibling’s block tower out of jealousy.

        • Nullifidian

          Callously destroying something that people worked hard and sacrificed to create. That sounds rather violent to me.

          Really? That sounds rather hyperbolic and emotive to me. Honestly, what “sacrifice” is entailed in creating and erecting a statue, except perhaps from the miners who sacrifice their lives and health to extract the necessary raw materials? But since we’re talking about Reagan and on this site, I can’t imagine that this is what you mean. People like that are deemed unworthy of consideration by the far-right. If they wanted to be something other than manual laborers living on subsistence wages, they should have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps to the Cloud Cuckoo Land where anybody can become rich by dint of hard work, regardless of obstacles of history, poverty, and education. Am I right?

          In any case, your very way of phrasing it shows exactly why the term “violent” doesn’t apply. People are not “created” in the way statues are, and violent crime deals with harm to people, not property. Otherwise, you could call fraud a “violent” crime with equal justification.

  • Kristin Thomas

    The tolerant liberal left is an oxymoron.

    • KN

      No one hates more than a “tolerant” liberal who disagrees with you.

  • Libertarian Advocate

    Brings to mind this admonition: By their fruits ye shall know them.

    • Cyberguy64

      NO! That’s judging! Heaven forbid you ever judge someone by what they do or how they act! If you do, you’re a racist bigot!

      Geeze… This is the world I’m inheriting? Can I return it?

  • Sgt Snuffy

    Typical Communist/Progressive/ Socialist teachings. Destroy what is good and promote and encourage anarchy and evil, yep if it makes you fell good go ahead and do it regardless of the cost to others in blood and tears. Check out the folks in the area that are hard core OBAMA supporters and Democrats and for sure that’s were you’ll find the perpetrators. Traitors one and all.

  • Bardi

    Can someone show me where “the left” had anything to do with this? and, to assuage suspicions, I know righties who despise Reagan.

    • JimTreacher

      Yeah, must’ve been those teabaggers.

  • Jason

    Apart from obvious affinities in this case with Ronald Reagan the Great, it’s difficult to imagine that a conservative would ever commit vandalism–who would want to pay for their own incarceration after defacing something that their taxes bought in the first place?