Veteran Tribute Signs Vandalized In Wilson County

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jun 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-09 02:02:54-04

LEBANON, Tenn. – Someone appears to be vandalizing or stealing decorations from highway signs that pay tribute to veterans.

Some families periodically decorate the signs with flowers and other decorations.

Roxanne Bowe Davenport said she was offended by what someone did to her daughter's sign on State Route 840 in Wilson County.

"We put flowers from the bottom of the sign all the way down on both sides," said Davenport.

Her daughter, Billie Jean Grinder, was a pilot who served in the Tennessee Army National Guard.

Davenport said, "She loved flying helicopters, and she had fun at anything she did."

Five years ago her helicopter crashed in Iraq killing Grinder and her co-pilot.

A short time later the I-40/840 interchange in Wilson County was dedicated to Grinder.

Several times a year her family decorates the posts with flowers, which happened most recently on Mother's Day.

Last week someone noticed the flowers were gone and flags placed on other veterans signs along 840 were broken or stolen.

"It's just heart breaking that somebody would do this to not only her's, but everybody else's sign down this road," said Davenport.

Tennessee Department Of Transportation Spokeswoman Heather Jensen said technically what the family is doing is illegal. It's against the law in Tennessee to place items like crosses, pictures and flowers in the public right of way next to state roads and interstates.

At first Davenport could not help but wonder if TDOT had taken the flowers.

Jensen said, "I've checked with my supervisors out there to see if they knew about any type of flowers or any adornments on the sign that have been removed or taken off intentionally, and that is not the case, at least not that we are aware of."

TDOT's policy is not to remove decorations unless they distract drivers, obstruct mowers or create dangerous situations.

Jensen said the Grinder sign and others that were tampered with don't fall under that criteria.

It appears to be the work of someone just being mean.
"Who would do something like that?" said Davenport.

Several bridges on State Route 840 are dedicated to fallen Tennessee Army National Guard soldiers.