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The Confederate Memorial Park near Point Lookout was vandalized last week with a spray-painted swastika on the base of a statue of a Confederate prisoner of war. A noose was placed around the statue’s neck and there was also a racial epithet spray-painted on another section of the memorial.

“I’m highly upset about it,” said Michael Daras, who lives nearby. His son, John, noticed the swastika on Thursday, but did not notice the noose until Friday when he visited the site.

“It shouldn’t be desecrated that way,” Michael Daras said, who was born in England and raised in Washington, D.C.

The memorial park was dedicated on Sept. 6, 2008, and cost more than $250,000 along with $100,000 worth of materials, said Jim Dunbar, chairman of the Confederate Memorial Park.

Dunbar called the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office and they are investigating the vandalism.

There was a beer bottle at the top of the stockade under the statue and a security camera there was removed, Dunbar said. However, another security camera at the site was recording and that video is under review, he said.

“I think it was probably a couple of kids,” he said.

It is the first time that the memorial has been vandalized, he said.

The next lot over contains the state and federal monument to those Confederates who died at Point Lookout when it was a prisoner of war camp during the Civil War. Those monuments were not vandalized.

Placards at the private memorial park say that 52,264 documented Confederates were held there at Camp Hoffman while it was open from September 1863 to June 1865.

The swastika was originally an ancient religious symbol that the German Nazi Party adopted as its symbol for the Third Reich, which went on to kill 6 million Jews during World War II.

A rope fashioned into a noose usually symbolizes the lynching of blacks in America.

“We couldn’t figure it out,” Dunbar said. “It’s just ignorance on their part. It wasn’t the prisoners who were Nazi-like. It was their captors,” he said, because the Union supplied very little food, medicine or shelter.

Michael Daras and his son have different theories on who vandalized the site, but both agreed the vandalism doesn’t make any sense.

The Confederate Memorial Park group is going to put up at least a $500 reward for the conviction of whoever vandalized the site.

“That would be a hate crime with a noose and swastikas,” Dunbar said. “It’s a black mark on their soul.”

“I would sure like to see something done about,” Michael Daras said.

Another placard at the park said, “The vast majority of Confederate Soldiers, more than 90 percent, did not own slaves or large tracts of land, and would not say that the preservation of slavery was their reason for volunteering to serve in the Confederate army.”

jbabcock@somdnews.com