By CLINT FOSTER
Local veterans are on the hunt for a thief after an American flag was stolen from the Avenue of Flags in front of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2399 over the icy Dec. 7 weekend.
The Avenue of Flags is a memorial dedicated to deceased veterans that the VFW displays during important national holidays and dates associated with the U.S. military.
Local VFW Veterans Service Officer Lee Downs said he had put out the 30 flags for Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, when one of them went missing: pole, flag and all.
“I just can’t believe someone would do that,” he said. “Somebody paid $300 for that monument for their family member.”
The majority of the 30 flags – which are set in granite stones on a graveled avenue – have been purchased in honor of a veteran. Those that are purchased bear a bronze plaque with the name of that veteran, organization or loved one on the granite base of the flag. Downs started this project about four years ago, modeling it after one he implemented in Florida before moving to Texas.
Downs said 10 percent of the money used to purchase each flag goes into the perpetual care fund – a fund Downs hopes to not have to dip into to replace the flag. However, Downs said he and others at the VFW have chosen to give the thief a second chance.
He offered this stern warning that if the flag is quickly returned, the VFW will not press charges:
“We’ve got your picture on our surveillance camera,” Downs said to the unknown thief. “We’ll give you a couple days to return the pole and the flag. We know you didn’t mean to take a veteran’s flag. If you leave it on the front porch of the VFW, all will be forgotten.”
For more information about the Avenue of Flags or to provide a tip on the stolen flag’s location, contact Downs at (940) 325-2998.