LEWISTON, N.Y. (WIVB) - Delicate work is needed to repair the monuments at the Oakwood Cemetery in Lewiston, after someone desecrated headstones dating back 200 years.
Why someone would cause damage on hallowed ground is a question that remains in Niagara County.
Lewiston Highway Superintendent Terry Brolinski said, "It's just not right to knock people's stones over."
Village Historian Pam Hauth added, "Why somebody would want to damage the stone of somebody who has gone before them...."
And Lewiston Mayor Terry Collesano said, "I was just flabbergasted. Why anyone would do such a deed is beyond me."
Village officials say vandals toppled at least 11 stones within the last month.
"There's a lot of history here. Lot of families that built this village. And I don't want to see it [damaged]," Brolinski said.
Hauth noted, "As soon as people started to live here, of course, people started to die here."
She says the cemetery has been around since 1801, right around the time the village was settled.
"There are veterans here of every major American war through the Vietnam era," Hauth said. "Lewiston had war casualties in all the wars, and they're buried here."
Elected leaders in the village have agreed to fix the damaged stones at a cost of about $1,600. Some would say a small price to pay to preserve a 200-year-old story.
"This is what Lewiston is. This is who we are. Where we've been. And the who's who of Lewiston is in this cemetery," Hauth said.
Many of the stones are fragile from years and years of weathering. But it appears harsh winters are not the only destructive elements the village is battling.
Collesano said, "We try to maintain it, which we do. You can see the grounds are kept up. The lawns are kept well and shrubs are trimmed, and we do the best we can."
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