Illinois

Veterans 'burial flags' snatched from Graceland Cemetery during Memorial Day weekend

Burial flags on display for the Memorial Day weekend were stolen from the Korean War Memorial at Graceland Cemetery in Decatur, Illinois sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, the general manager of the cemetery told Herald & Review.

The four stolen flags – known for draping veterans’ coffins during funerals – measure 5 feet wide and are more than 9 feet long. They’re valued at $150 each.

Cameras will now be installed to monitor the cemetery in order to discourage thieves, according to David Goebel, the general manager of Graceland Fairlawn Funeral Home and Cemeteries.

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“And we've been in contact with the Decatur police, the Macon County Sheriff's Office and the Decatur Park Police and talked to them about doing some more patrolling next year,” Goebel told Herald & Review.

The flags were part of a collection of donated flags presented to Graceland for display. They’re only flown on Memorial Day weekend. The flags were donated by veterans’ families, Goebel said, sometimes after the funeral of the relative.

Each flag that was stolen had the name of the veteran affiliated with it inscribed on the fabric in marker.

“It's depressing that someone could come out and be so destructive as to want to take an American flag,” Goebel said. “Unfortunately, with our society today, you can't have anything nice, you can't do anything worthwhile, without having someone come and try to destroy it.”