Vandals steal American flags placed on veterans' gravesites at Neptune cemetery

This is the second year in a row that someone has stolen the flags off the gravesites.

Jim Murdoch

May 21, 2024, 9:55 PM

Updated 22 days ago

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What was supposed to be a time of remembrance is now one of anger and frustration for veterans groups in Monmouth County who helped place American flags at the gravesites of those who served.
For the second year in a row, someone tried to disrupt the honored tradition by stealing those flags in Neptune Township.
“There were about 20 or so graves. The flags we put out a week or so ago are missing. They were torn off the stakes,” said Gary Crawford, SAL Commander of the American Legion Post #346.
A sea of what was supposed to be red, white, and blue, is now left looking like oversized toothpicks sticking out of the ground at Mount Prospect Cemetery in Neptune Township.
“It happened a year ago and we wrote it off as vandalism but this year it was a little more organized. There’s about 20 altogether that seem to be missing,” Crawford said.
Gravesites of veterans dating back to the Civil and Spanish-American War were vandalized decades after they passed on.
“It’s an insult, something that you work for - paid for - many with their lives and figured it’s nothing. ‘Oh, I’ll just take the flag,’” added Crawford.
Crawford taught his grandson Murphy the meaning and tradition behind the flags as they placed them by the headstones last week. He says they will now have to return to replace the flags that were taken.
“After all this work to honor our veterans, this just upsets me,” Crawford said.
A spokesperson for the cemetery tells News 12 they are deeply disturbed about what took place here and as a result, they will be stepping up patrols and adding extra surveillance near these veterans’ gravesites.
Neptune Township police tell News 12 the investigation remains ongoing. The penalties in New Jersey can range up to $1,000 per stolen flag.
Crawford says his American Legion has plenty of extra flags to replace the ones stolen and they will make sure that is done before the holiday weekend.


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