A new memorial honoring a Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient was unveiled at a park in New York state on Thursday, months after a teenager vandalized the original monument, shattering it into pieces.
Loved ones and members of the community gathered at the Lake Ronkonkoma park named for the late Lt. Michael P. Murphy to install the monument. The park, where Murphy was once a lifeguard, was dedicated to him in 2009, on what would have been his 30th birthday.
“It has been amazing to see the community rally together after this awful act of vandalism,” Brookhaven Councilman Kevin J. LaValle wrote on Facebook.
In July, a 14-year-old defaced the granite stone monument at Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Park. The teen was later arrested and charged with second-degree criminal mischief.
Peter Marmorato, whose late father made the original medallion, told FOX5 New York that he built the new memorial three and a half inches thick out of black absolute granite, “one of the most dense stones in the world.” The nearly 700-pound plaque is inscribed with the same image and inscription as the original.
"Lt. Michael Murphy gave the ultimate sacrifice and this was the least we could do," he said.
Murphy died during a shootout in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005, while he and other members of his SEAL team were conducting “a reconnaissance mission” on a well-known terrorist. Hollywood retold the heroics of the mission in the 2013 film “Lone Survivor,” starring Mark Wahlberg.
“Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates,” reads his summary of action on the Navy’s website.
The town will host a re-dedication ceremony at the park in the spring, according to LaValle.
"I just want Michael to be remembered as a citizen of Suffolk County, citizen of America and someone who took it upon himself to be there to protect all of us and willing to lay down his life to keep us safe," his father, Daniel Murphy, told FOX5.