A little over a year and a half ago the widow of David Kries and members of the Kiwanis Club gathered at the corner of Main and 5th streets in Kamiah on a rainy morning to honor one of Kamiah’s most extraordinary persons.
David Kries was a longtime teacher who made a powerful difference in hundreds of young people’s lives, many of whom still call Kamiah home and some of whom have followed in his steps as a teacher at the very school he walked and shared an irrepressible positive nature.
For those new to the area or unfamiliar with Kries, he tragically died with friend Roger Ward in an ice fishing accident on Winchester Lake on Feb. 6, 2015. Later that year, his Kiwanian brothers and sisters along with Larry and Cheryl Nims dedicated a bench in his name at the heart of Kamiah.
This past weekend the bench was heaved over, causing cosmetic damage. A nearby headstone at Ida-Stone Memorial, owned by the Nims, was also damaged, likely by the same person.
It wasn’t so much the physical damage of cracks and broken pieces of rock that is an affront. Those things can be mended or lived with. It’s the total degraded mindset involved in attacking a good man’s memory, his family’s feelings, and the community’s perception about the quality of life here. It’s not an isolated incident either. There have been attempted break-ins at numerous businesses around town, burglaries, and at least one business sustained a broken window.
This behavior seems to be trending to a new level of normal. It’s what would be expected in a colder, less friendly locale. Left unchecked, it erodes people’s trust in one another and community pride.
These incidents show two very different faces of Kamiah: the one honorable and pure, the other selfish and brutish.
There is a positive side of Kamiah that focuses on the goodness of people. It’s a mindset that doesn’t even give thought to the notion or need to secure a memorial bench to the concrete to prevent an imp who wants to damage it for fun. For most people here it doesn’t compute that someone would be so disrespectful or cruel to the memory of a beloved citizen and/or the feelings of a grieving family who must now grieve again over such nonsensical actions.
This perspective doesn’t give thought to having to lock and chain every piece of property, install video cameras, or lock doors. It doesn’t view people, generally speaking, suspiciously.
Then there is the side of Kamiah, as displayed in this attack and others on the community, that despises goodness. It seeks fulfillment in the degradation of other’s property, reputation, and livelihood. At their core is unchecked pride. They lack decency and respect nothing accept self. Lacking self-control, they have never learned the meaning of the word no. This side sees others’ property as something to steal or wreck. It acts craftily in ways that are foreign to the pure of heart.
When retired Kamiah Marshal Joe Albright happened on the scene of vandalism Monday morning he felt the act of vandalism was an attack on the community itself, not just on a stout piece of engraved granite.
He’s right. It is a community bench that is dedicated to someone who cared an awful lot about the community.
Such loveless actions deserve no place in our community. It’s the kind of face we don’t want to ever see because it is not representative of who and what Kamiah is. Furthermore, it has the potential to sow the seeds of contempt, discord, and trust in one another.
Ongoing discussions at home, school, church, and the coffee shop can help snip some behavior in the bud. But it’s also probable that the tough side of love will need to be implemented to let the incorrigible know their actions will not be tolerated.