As the Director of Veteran Affairs in Carbon County, part of my job is to make sure the graves of our deceased Veterans are marked with a flag and flag holder. Every year our office replaces those that have broken for whatever reason and those that are stolen.
To that end, it was recently brought to my attention by veteran Ted Dacey, the caretaker of St. Mary's Byzantine cemetery in Nesquehoning, that 61 holders had been stolen from both St. Mary's and St. Johns Russian Orthodox cemeteries.
A police report was made and we will be replacing the holders that were stolen. Not only does the families whose graves have been disrespected but it also affects the taxpayers of our county. They ultimately pay the price, through their tax dollars, for someone who is looking to make a quick buck from the sale of these markers to a scrap metal dealer or even selling them at a flea market.
Our veterans fought to maintain our rights as citizens in this country and having someone disrespect their final resting place by stealing from it makes me angry, not only as a veteran but as a taxpayer. Apparently the few dollars these people make from selling the aluminum or brass means more than the respect they owe our veterans.
It is illegal for the scrap metal dealers to take these and melt them down. They should be reporting the person who is turning it in as scrap and trying to return them to where they belong.
I hope the perpetrators get caught and prosecuted. Maybe the judge will sentence them to community service, taking care of the graves of our veterans and their families.
I want to end this letter by thanking all of our veterans for their service to our country and its citizens.
Henry M. Desrosiers,
director of Veterans Affairs
for Carbon County