Original URL: http://www.timesreporter.com/index.php?ID=58116&r=0
Four New Philadelphia teens who admitted damaging U.S. flags at Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia earlier this summer have a lot of apologizing to do.
[names removed on request] learned Tuesday they will spend two days in a veteransâ€™ hospital at Cleveland. They also must issue a public apology in November.
During a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Tuscarawas County Juvenile Court Judge Linda A. Kate commended the four for the apologies theyâ€™ve made so far â€“ to city and park officials â€“ but said it wasnâ€™t enough.
â€œItâ€™s one thing to make the apologies youâ€™ve already made,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s another thing to look these veterans in the face and explain what you did and hear what they have to say.
â€œYou also will appear at the Veterans Day services at the courthouse. By that time you will prepare a written apology, no less than 250 words. One of you will read it aloud.â€
All four apologized for their actions and maintained there was no anti-American sentiment behind the stunt.
â€œWe didnâ€™t mean to be anti-American or anti-the flag,â€ Urban said. â€œIt was just a prank we tried to see if we could get away with it. We didnâ€™t think of it as a symbol.â€
Kate was incredulous. She asked how else their actions could be viewed.
â€œIt was so disrespectful to all of the men and women who have served our country,â€ she said. â€œYou should have known. I have no doubt your parents taught you better than this. It shouldnâ€™t have taken this to make you appreciative.â€
Kate reminded the four how fortunate they are to live in the United States.
â€œDo you understand there are countries in the world where people are rounded up by the government and put in metal boxes to die in the desert?â€ she asked. â€œYou donâ€™t have to worry about that because of the hundreds of men and women who have been willing to put their lives on the line. You think so little of their sacrifice that you would do this to amuse yourself?â€
Kate then introduced Larry Clawson, a local Vietnam War veteran who is employed at the county veteransâ€™ services office. He spoke briefly to the boys.
â€œMy father fought in World War II, and I spent a year in Vietnam,â€ he said. â€œMy son just spent seven months in Iraq. I get choked up when I talk about the flag. The three of us served under the flag. The flag and our country are one and the same.
â€œFifty-eight thousand plus Vietnam veterans didnâ€™t come back, and countless have died since then. What you did was a stupid mistake. I hope you learned a good lesson.â€
New Philadelphia Police Chief Jeff Urban, father of Jaymes Urban, spoke on the quartetâ€™s behalf, as did some of the other parents.
â€œThese are four good boys,â€ he said. â€œAll four have stayed out of trouble until this. All four made a serious error that they are well aware of. These boys have learned a valuable lesson.â€
Kate suspended 10 days in the Multi-County Juvenile Attention Center for thee of them and 10 days in the county jail for one of them, who turned 18 since the incident. They also must complete 60 hours of community service, pay court costs and pay any restitution owed.
The four admitted two juvenile delinquency charges by reason of criminal trespass and criminal damaging stemming from the July 11 incident. Charges against a fifth teen, Mark T. Goodwin, 18, a brother of Nickalas Goodwin, are pending in New Philadelphia Municipal Court.
According to police, the teens stole two flags from the park, painted obscenities on them and burned them. They were spotted by a park officer when they returned to the park and hung one of the flags upside down on a flag pole.
I guess Americans really really really absolutely adore and love their flag…