At least 50 American flags were torched when a container at a Los Angeles-area veterans memorial park was set on fire late Sunday morning.
The container was set up at the park last year to collect worn and torn American flags that needed to be properly retired by the Boy Scouts. The youth organization holds symbolic ceremonies to retire old or damaged flags, which is done in a methodical and “respectful” matter, according to the Boy Scouts.
But investigators with the Los Angeles Fire Department believe an arsonist deliberately set fire to the container at Granada Hills Veterans Park. A suspect has been taken into custody, Fox 11 reported.
Barbara Wright, whose son Ronald set up the container as part of his Eagle Scout Project before joining the Army, told the news station that it was “appalling” to see the burnt flags. Deliberately burning or damaging a flag without the ceremony is considered desecration.
“It was just appalling that somebody would do such a thing to our flag, our nation’s symbol, it was devastating,” she said. “[My son] was very upset about it and he just wants to see it restored to its original status.”
She said the container, placed at the park last August, has been popular among those who want to properly dispose of old or damaged flags.
“We have collected so many flags from within the first week of it being placed here,” she added, estimating at least 1,000 flags have been collected over the past year.
Erik Scott, captain with the LAFD, told the news station that his department will take over the task of properly retiring the torched flags.
“It was important for firefighters to ensure that those American flags have the proper ceremonial disposal,” he said. “That’s exactly what the local firefighters are doing for those flags.”