Yes, Bakersfield, as well as many American cities, has a homeless problem. Cogitative issues, drugs, affordable housing, etc., along with offshoring living wage jobs contribute to the problem.
Except that’s not the half of it. It has been my honor to serve on the board of the Kern Veteran Memorial Foundation over the past 15 years. Our signature work is the Kern Veteran Memorial at the intersection of Truxtun Avenue and S Street. Recently I have been to the site more than usual as the group is working on some modifications and improvements.
This has reconfirmed for me the fact that many vagrants that happen to enter the sacred ground of the memorial are not considerate. Most it seems will not walk a few feet to place their garbage in a container (memo to self: put gloves in car for picking up their trash). I can only wonder if they are aware of where they are standing or laying or bathing. What the cost of entry was to be one of the 1,020 KIA names etched on the glass panels?
This disease is cultural in nature, which requires a fresh approach. I’m reminded of the old adage, where nothing is sacred, everything is profane. A suggestion, read the work of John Randolph of Roanoke, one of the Seedbed-of-the-Republic Virginians of the era. He was a champion of public ostracism of those who strayed outside public norms, the social order of the day, such as public drunkenness. Further stating that traditional moral prohibitions were more effective than regulation, maybe he was on to something. One more suggestion, look not to Washington, they are not up to the task.
Special thanks from the foundation and all veterans go to David Lyman (Bakersfield Visitor Center) for his daily efforts in helping keep the area presentable.
Andy Wahrenbrock, Bakersfield