TSGS Cruiser Blog

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

TSGS Dock of Shame

Any cemetery vandalism or desecration is bad enough, but to steal statues and other sculptures to sell is the lowest. However, I recently learned that some people can even go lower! Last week I was in the office at Oak Hill Cemetery http://www.evansvillegov.org/cemeteries/ when a gentleman came in to report that his brother-in-law's brass military plaque had been removed and apparently stolen. This has become a major wave of thefts over the last several years, not just a result of the more recent economic problems. At a time when most of the nation is supporting our troops and mourning those soldiers who are killed, as well as, the hundreds of thousands veterans who have passed on... it is unconscionable to understand the theft of these memorials of those who served their country in war and peace. I implore all veterans and their families to help us spread the news of such dishonor for our fallen soldiers and veterans. These thieves are true scum & debris and qualify for the TSGS Dock of Shame! - by John G. West

Don Counts has found these news stories of how wide-spread this shame has become. Last year, in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, over 700 markers were stolen from the graves of American soldiers. These bronze plaques and flag holders were placed at every veteran's grave as a memorial to honor their service. In Texas, the grave of Purple Heart recipient Lance Corporal Jeremy Burris was desecrated only 2 days after his burial. Flower arrangements, personal notes, and flags decorating the grave site were torn down and destroyed. All of this destruction to steal and sell wire flower stands. In Georgia, a bronze statue depicting a Marine's boots, rifle and helmet was ripped out of the ground at the grave site of Corporal John Stalvey. Other graves have also been vandalized to steal the bronze plates traditionally placed on the grave sites of fallen service men and women. With the price of bronze on the rise, thieves are stealing these markers to sell as scrap metal. The cost of brass markers has risen to $28 each. Some counties cannot afford to replace the metal markers, so they are being forced to turn to cheaper aluminum markers.

John, I just found other articles, this one on Military.com: War Hero's Statue Stolen for Scrap http://www.military.com/news/article/war-heros-statue-stolen-for-scrap.html?ESRC=marine-a.nl
Veterans grave markers stolen in Waterloo
In West Virginia, it was vases bolted to headstones. In Washington state, it was bronze markers on veterans' graves. In Chicago, it was nearly half a million dollars' worth of brass ornaments.
Cemeteries have new problem: metal theft
Working to get a marble marker to replace brass one stolen
173 Brass Markers Stolen From Graves of Veterans


Don Counts said...

"Thieves Steal Fallen GI's Memorial"
January 22, 2009
Houston Chronicle

Jones Creek, Texas, resident Philip Ford confronted heartache when his 21-year-old son Cody, a U.S. Army specialist, was killed in an explosion in Iraq two years ago.

Now, the grieving father is experiencing a new kind of heartache -- the vandalism and desecration of his son's gravesite in this tiny Brazoria County town 60 miles south of Houston.

Some time late last week, thieves went into the Gulf Prairie Cemetery on County Road 304 and hauled away a battlecross that topped the slain Soldier's gravesite -- his bronzed jump boots, bronzed assault rifle and a bronzed helmet just like the one he wore in Iraq.


John G. West said...

Don, thanks for this follow-up. I heard this on the radio yesterday and thought these thieves have no personal morals at all, nor respect for humanity. When I was a kid, I can remember people thinking it was awful to steal flowers off of graves, but those flowers would eventually deteriote and be gone. But items like plaques, statues, grave markers were meant to last for a very, very long time for the memory of that deceased person. What shame for these thieves!