Teens aren’t always credited with making the best of decisions. Rightfully so.
At that age, we didn’t always wear our thinking caps properly. Something that seemed harmless at the time can easily come back to bite you in the rear.
We weren’t very old when one of our grandparents taught us a lesson in good judgment. We were goofing off in a pasture, tearing up old car parts that appeared to be junk. Our grandpa was quick to remind us that what we saw as junk was quite valuable to someone else — him.
As a preacher, grandpa had a story, usually equipped with analogies and metaphors, for just about every occasion. That day’s lesson was on solid thinking and not coming to conclusions before thinking of others. We learned something that day. Then after our lesson, we learned that it may take only a few minutes to destroy something in an instance of bad judgments, but it can take hours, days or even longer to make amends.
There are few childhood actions that we’re still ashamed of today, but that summer day in rural Northeast Arkansas will always be one of them.
That will probably be the case for a couple of area teens who thought they’d spend time ransacking the rural Cypress Valley Cemetery near Vilonia where they allegedly destroyed or damaged more than 60 headstones.
We received more than a dozen calls from folks in the area expressing their concerns, and outright disgust, for the actions.
Some of the damaged monuments are irreplaceable. Several dated back to the 19th century.
The teens allegedly told sheriff’s deputies they did it because they were bored.
Now, others have been kind enough to lend their time and skills to clean up after the two teenagers. Saturday, Maj. Andy Shock and a handful of inmates, along with a representative from McGee Monument and other volunteers, spent the day standing up toppled monuments. The McGee Monument representative began fixing the broken tombstones that were repairable. Shock didn’t have to lend his time or energy, but he did. Neither did McGee Monument or the other volunteers who gave up a Saturday to work at the cemetery.
We cannot thank them enough for their efforts.
Of all those calls we received, each person on the other end of the line offered up one suggestion: The two teens who allegedly committed this senseless act ought to be ones giving their time and energy to right their own wrong. But, unfortunately, that’s not the way the law works.
While these two teens may spend more time cleaning up cemeteries in the future, they cannot be punished for a crime they’ve yet to be found guilty of, even if they were caught red handed and gave confessions to authorities. But a juvenile court judge assured us that, if found guilty, these teens will be held accountable for their actions.
And that’s the best we can ask for — those who are responsible being held accountable. We just hope there is someone in these kids’ lives who can teach them the lessons they apparently need in bad judgment and thinking of others.