The weekend might have started with a "devastating" act of hate, but it ended with an "outpouring of love." That from the manager of Sunset Hill Cemetery in Glen Carbon, Ill., 20 miles northeast of St. Louis, where more than 1,400 veterans are buried. Early Saturday, a building and some 200 gravestones were found vandalized with spray-painted swastikas. In nearby Edwardsville, dozens of homes, vehicles, signs, and mailboxes were marked in the same way, per the Alton Telegraph. Cemetery manager Jeanne Brunette described "tears and disillusionment and disappointment" days before a 29th annual Memorial Day ceremony to be attended by hundreds, per the New York Times. "We haven't seen anything of this magnitude in the 30 years that I've been here," the grounds superintendent adds, per KMOV.
The son of a veteran noted the swastikas were especially upsetting as "the majority of the people buried up here that were in the service fought during World War II," per KSDK. But thanks to volunteers and local businesses that donated food and products, the swastikas were erased from view in time for Monday's event. An arrest had also been made by that time. A 34-year-old white male was taken into custody Saturday afternoon after Edwardsville police shared a surveillance video showing a person leaving the vandalized area. Described as previously known to police, Timothy VA Mclean of Glen Carbon is expected to be charged with a hate crime and institutional vandalism, per the Telegraph. "The fact that he did this on Memorial Day weekend is inexcusable and disgusting behavior that we're not going to tolerate," a police rep tells the Times. (Read more swastikas stories.)