No flags for dead vets. Blame scrap-metal thieves

Among the elements of our society, few are more despicable than scrap-metal thieves.

The Rochester Post Bulletin reports they’ve been hitting cemeteries hard recently, and a particular target is veterans cemeteries because of the brass and copper markers that denote a veteran’s service and hold a small flag.

“It’s sacrilegious,” said former Marine Bernie Melter, a Cannon Falls resident who served as the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs commissioner from 1991-2001. “You’re violating state property. It ought to be a serious criminal offense and go to trial.

“It just disturbs me that someone would do that for the price of whatever copper is going for these days. I’m sure the families will be very disturbed by that, too.”

More than 100 flag holders have been reported missing at cemeteries in Cannon Falls, Vasa, Frontenac and elsewhere over the past few weeks. Officials believe the rods are being sold as scrap metal. That belief is bolstered by the fact that dozens of stars have been recovered after being broken off or cut from the brass rods — such telltale items would raise red flags at salvage shops — including five found May 2 by the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office in a discarded bag near Oxford Mill Road west of Cannon Falls.

No grave is safe. In Ohio this week, someone broke into the monument to President James Garfield at a cemetery and stole commemorative spoons.

  • tboom

    Nothing new here. In the early 1960’s the markers were taken 3 or 4 years running from my Dad’s grave in Oakwood Cemetery in Rochester – until my Mom gave up and stopped requesting replacements. Always wondered why they didn’t use plastic that looked like brass.