Veterans Angered Over Flag Theft

July 12, 2008 12:01:06 PM PDT
A flag that once draped over the casket of a valley service member has been stolen and valley veterans want it back. Members of Exeter's American Legion Post 94 put up their "Avenue of Flags" display at a local cemetery four times a year, including the 4th of July holiday. It's made up of 50 large flags, but this year one of them was stolen just as they were getting ready to take down the display.The 5 foot wide, 9 and a half feet long flags are given to veterans' families, after their loved one is laid to rest. They're then donated to the post to be part the patriotic display. "It's folded and given to them. And its very difficult to give that flag up? you're giving away your last tangible piece of evidence of that man's service, or woman's," said Post Commander Sandra Carr.

The historical significance of the stolen flag has the legion members even more outraged over the theft. "This is more than a piece of cloth; this is more than just a flag. This flag represents a veterans' service to his country and a deceased veteran," said Jack Allwardt, a member of the post.

Veterans said the theft amounts to the desecration of the American flag. They also call it an insult to the more than 1,400 veterans buried in the cemetery and the unknown family that gave up loved one's final military tribute. The flag is worth $100 dollars, but veterans say the flag's sentimental value is priceless. "It's not the monetary thing. There's nothing monetary about this. It's just flag, country, the reason why we had it. Where it had been. It was on the casket of a veteran," said member Francis Richard.

The veterans say the flag has already been replaced, so there will be no gap in their next patriotic display. Still, they want the flag returned.


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