The Trail of Tears site is a historic landmark — sacred ground dedicated to preserving the American past — and the City of Waynesville has spent years on transforming this notable site into a tourist attraction where people can absorb its history and appreciate the beauty of Laughlin Park.

But if you have visited the site in the last few weeks, you might notice something is off.

Like a bad tattoo, the words “Alan + Tiff” with a large heart are indented into the cement of this sacred ground.

Just weeks after vandals angered the county by stealing the Purple Heart Flag, vandals managed to make their ugly mark again.

And we have every right to be angry about this.

Let's start with finances. Our city leaders work tirelessly to spend our tax dollars in the right places and not over-budget (unlike a majority of the country). We are still living in tough times and the local government realizes that the money it spends is precious. Simple acts of vandalism, like the words of affection imprinted in the cement, cost the City of Waynesville thousands of dollars every year.

City of Waynesville authorities said that it estimates this single act will cost the city hundreds of dollars to fix.

Waynesville City administrator Bruce Harrill reported that the the city has already spent over $1,000 on vandalism related costs in 2013.

The City of Waynesville has improved drastically in the last few years, with the Downtown Beatification grant, the revitalization of the square and the overall growth of this community.

But we can't expect our government to continue working hard for these improvements when vandals continue to purposely damage and destroy the very things the local government dedicates tireless hours in improving.

These acts of vandalism do nothing but derail the progress so many people have worked toward.

The city is doing its best to prevent this from happening. It has increased police presence in the park and added security cameras in several key locations (spending more tax dollars).

But we have to also take it on ourselves as citizens to help stop this from happening. We need to keep all eyes and ears open and pay closer attention to what's happening around us. We need to do our best to hold these vandals accountable.

We have a lot to be proud of in Pulaski County and we need to protect and preserve those things, not destroy them.