Virginia Beach is, to be honest, kind of a dump.
“A tourist trap” is how I’ve described this unlovely coastal jumble of blockish ocean-facing hotels and pool-heavy motels, neon T-shirt and bicycle surrey rental stands, joints selling fried oysters and fish chowder, cramped stores hawking novelty shot glasses and Virginia is for Lovers beer cozies.
We only visited because we were looking at southern colleges for the younger boy, and the grumpy dad doing all the driving insisted that he’d be damned if he was going to travel all the way from Chicago to the University of Richmond — lovely campus, great business school, they trust their kids with chunks of the endowment to invest, and the best mascot ever, the Spiders — without pushing 100 more miles and sticking his toes in the ocean for a few days.
All things being equal, better to swim at Michigan City and save yourself a drive.
There is, however, on the crowded and over-developed Virginia Beach boardwalk, a curious statue showing three figures, obscured up to their hips by a marble base, each with one hand interlocked, the other reaching down, as if offering passersby below a helping hand.
It is the Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Dedicated in 2012, it’s inscribed with 14 names of local officers who died in the line of duty. The bronze larger-than-life figures represent the police, the sheriff’s office and federal agencies.
I thought of the statue after what Virginia Beach police chief Jim Cervera called a “horrific event of unbelievable proportion” occurred Friday afternoon: a dozen people murdered at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. Shot dead for ... well, whatever unknowable blend of petty grievance and flaring psychosis (and, never forget, easy access to automatic weaponry) causes a person to do such a thing.
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