Panel could decide fate of Zunker memorial ThursdayThe memorial to a sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty may be sandblasted to remove an inscription quoting the deputy. A decision may be made tomorrow morning by a Chippewa County committee.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The memorial to a sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty may be sandblasted to remove an inscription quoting the deputy. A decision may be made tomorrow morning by a Chippewa County committee. They’re afraid the inscription will force them into a lawsuit.
The inscription, taken from a letter Deputy Jason Zunker wrote, in the event of his death reads:
“I don’t feel I have gone too soon. I feel lucky everyday God keeps me here. When I die, I know where I’m going. Don’t be sad, because the Bible says it’s greater than anyone can even imagine. When it’s your time to see it, you will. But never before it. Don’t do anything stupid! I want to make sure I see all of you again someday. You must ask Jesus into your heart, believe he died for you, and believe he rose again. Live a good life, ask for forgiveness, and believe. Then I will see you all again. I love you all and thank God for the time I had with each and every one of you. I love you all. I thank you all for a good life.”
Zunker was struck down while directing traffic near Bloomer in January 2008. He was 31 years old. Like many other law enforcement officers, when he was hired as a Chippewa County deputy in 2002, he wrote a message in case he was killed in the line of duty.
But the statement mentions the bible, God, and says quote: “You must ask Jesus into your heart, believe he died for you and believe he rose again.” That’s why County Building and Grounds Committee member Leigh Darrow says they’ll strip the message from the ornate six foot memorial erected this summer on the county lawn.
“It’s a beautiful monument, there’s no doubt about it. It was very nicely done but we’re just afraid of what could happen. It’s a bad deal. It’s a no-win situation, no matter what,” she says.
Many of Zunker’s friends, family and fellow law enforcement officers are miffed to put it mildly. But Freedom from Religion Foundation Director Annie Laurie Gaylor says the county is making the right move since it appears the county is promoting Zunker’s religious beliefs.
“I would hope they wouldn’t change their minds. I mean we could contact them then but this is a private, personal message. It’s clearly directed at family members and friends. It’s not directed at the public. It’s just not appropriate.”
A compromise is possible, moving the monument off county property but keeping the inscription intact.