Maryland authorities are investigating vandalism at a Ukrainian cemetery after a neighbor noticed desecration and a man discovered his brother’s headstone was destroyed.
The damage, which unfolded at St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church Cemetery in Dundalk, Maryland, was discovered by Myron Skyrczuk, among others, last week while he visited his sibling’s grave, WBAL-TV reported.
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Skyrczuk said he found other tombstones overturned and urns smashed, with the cemetery confirming that vandals impacted nearly 50 monuments.
Angel statues were also toppled, and flowers were strewn around. Skyrczuk expressed dismay and heartbreak over the shocking scene.
“I would never do anything like this stupid, desecrate somebody’s final resting place,” he said. “It’s just sad. You figure this is a place where you can come and do prayer and pay respects to family, friends, relatives.”
Skyrczuk and others find the timing of the desecration troubling, considering Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine and the international fallout that continues to rage.
The vandals purportedly committed their unfortunate acts last Wednesday as the conflict kicked off, though the events have not yet been officially linked.
Stephen Humeniuk, the administrator at St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church Cemetery, affirmed the timing is suspicious.
“The first thing you think is a hate crime, but you can’t prove it. There was no notes. There was no spray paint,” he told the Baltimore Sun. “Nothing to indicate that. It was just the timing of the incident and the crisis in Ukraine.”
A police report was filed, and the church is looking into how the situation can be remedied. One company, Loeblein Memorials, has agreed to replace impacted headstones.
“The families — a lot of them — are all gone, so there’s no one to look after them,” owner Walter Tegeler told the Sun. “Most of them are going to be fixed relatively simply.”
The incident adds to the already immense pain so many Ukrainian-Americans face amid Russia’s ongoing onslaught.
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