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Arsonist burns 21 US flags honoring vets at SC cemetery on July 4

Burning US flag (U.S. Air Force/Released)
July 21, 2019

An arsonist set fire to 21 American flags that were assembled along a cemetery road leading up to a veteran’s mausoleum in Anderson, S.C.

The incident took place on July 4 at Forest Lawn Cemetery, adjacent to the final resting place of several veterans, where McDougald Funeral Home had displayed 30 4-by-6 foot flags on 8 feet poles, but found the burnt remnants of just 21 flags the following day, CNN reported.

Jess McDougald, who owns the three-generation funeral home, said such an incident has never taken place in 85 years of business.

“We’ve put flags out for as long as I can remember. We’ve never had a problem,” McDougald said.

To honor veterans, it has been a tradition for the funeral home to place the flags on the night before Independence Day so they line the veteran’s section of the cemetery. McDougald said his grandfather began the tradition for patriotic holidays.

“We have always embraced and honored our veterans and it’s something we feel is important,” McDougald told Fox Carolina.

McDougald said, “This area we are in today is dedicated to the veterans, and we have a veteran memorial. Primarily veterans are buried here. They noticed the flags were missing. When they did an inspection of the cemetery, they noticed that, in this spot, there were approximately 21 of 30 flags that were laying burned,” WBNS News reported.

McDougald said, “We can replace the flags, it’s just the hurt of those families who have had people buried there and to find they had burned 21 flags, it really disappoints you.”

Replacing the flags will cost the funeral home $1,260, WYFF 4 reported.

The funeral home posted to Facebook and said, “A sad report from our Forest Lawn Memorial Park staff over the holiday weekend. On the night of July the 4th, someone pulled up 21 American Flags that lined the roadway to our Veteran’s Mausoleum and had the nerve to burn them, yes burn them, on the lawn in the cemetery right in front of where our Veteran’s and their families rest in peace. Should you have any information about the vandals that disrespected the very ones that provided our country’s freedom to celebrate this holiday please contact us at 864-224-4343 or at our cemetery office at 864-225-1636.”

Residents of the community were outraged.

One resident, Kristi Pulliam said, “I would like an explanation. I mean why would you do that? Why would you degrade or disrespect our veterans,” ABC News 4 reported.

There were no other signs of vandalism and the cemetery does not have surveillance cameras.

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the incident.