COLUMBUS — A flag belonging to VFW Post 3704 is believed to have been taken late Monday from an area near the bell tower at Pawnee Park.
Richard Stamm, a member of the VFW, said that when he and fellow volunteers came out to Pawnee Park on Tuesday morning they discovered that they only had 49 of the 50 flags originally placed in recognition of Labor Day.
“I was the first one down here this morning,” Stamm said. “I pulled up and got to looking and (I thought) maybe one fell down and was laying on the ground. I walked over around the bushes (near the bell tower) and there was nothing there.”
The flags are placed throughout the park to celebrate major civic holidays, such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. The tradition of doing so dates back well before Stamm’s time with the VFW and there have been few problems.
“We’ve even had them sit out here over the week if they’ve gotten wet and we can’t fold them up,” Stamm said. “It’s all volunteer help. Guys and gals come in the mornings and put them up and leave them up over the weekend of the holidays and then take them down on Monday or Tuesday.”
The flags stand out to anyone who sees them, as they're 4-foot-by-6-foot flags on 12-foot poles. Stamm said that his fellow volunteers were surprised Tuesday to see one of the flags missing.
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“Several of the guys walked through the park and looked over the fence into the ball field,” Stamm said. “We couldn’t see anything or find anything. We folded up what we had and put them in the shed.”
VFW member Greg Drum said the flags are a celebration of American pride and honor fellow servicemen and women who gave their lives in defense of American freedom.
Drum added that he couldn’t quite understand why someone would steal an American flag on Labor Day.
“Hey, if they need a flag, fine,” Drum said. “If they fly it, great. I hope they put it up. But if they just did it out of orneriness, it’s not very respectful.”
After storing the remaining flags, Stamm did file a report with the Columbus Police Department.
“All we’re interested in is getting it back,” Stamm said. “Hopefully, it’ll be in good shape. We try to take care of them and keep them clean and patched up. We do replace them every now and then, but hopefully, this one will find its way back home.”