South Carolina

Vandals steal and burn 21 American flags from veterans’ graves on July 4, SC cops say

This file photo shows an American flag being burned, and an investigation is underway after 21 flags were destroyed at a South Carolina cemetery on July 4.
This file photo shows an American flag being burned, and an investigation is underway after 21 flags were destroyed at a South Carolina cemetery on July 4. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

American flags are a common site on the Fourth of July.

Singed scraps of stars and stripes are not.

But that is what employees at McDougald Funeral Home found when they showed up for work on July 5, WHNS reported.

Flags at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Anderson, South Carolina, were vandalized on the national holiday, when someone stacked them in a pile and ignited it, according to WYFF.

“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,” read a post on the funeral home’s Facebook page.

Anderson County Dispatch confirmed to The State that the sheriff’s office received a report about the vandalism and is investigating the destruction of the flags.

Of the 30 U.S. flags placed in an area of the cemetery where veterans are buried, 21 were stolen and burned, with their charred remnants sprinkled on the grass, per WSPA.

Funeral home owner Douglas McDougald said the flags placed to honor the veterans, but the symbolism of the damage is worse than the physical act, according to WHNS.

“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,” McDougald said, the TV station reported.

An incident report listed the value of damaged property at $1,260, per WYFF.

McDougald, who said this type of vandalism is unusual for his cemetery and others, said he will not be deterred from continuing to place flags at the graves, WSPA reported.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 888 CRIME SC, or can contact the funeral home at either 864-224-4343 or the cemetery office at 864-225-1636.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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