More than 200 bronze stands swiped from veterans' graves in Pittsfield

Thursday May 10, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- More than 200 bronze stands that hold U.S. flags at veterans' graves were recently taken from St. Joseph's Cemetery on Pecks Road, according to the cemetery's superintendent Paul Guillou.

What day the stands were removed is not known. Guillou said police were in contact with him last week because some of them may have turned up in a scrap metal yard. Police didn't immediately return messages seeking more information on the investigation on Wednesday.

Guillou said the stands were staked in the oldest section of the cemetery, which has been in operation since 1853.

In some cases, the stands were the only indication that a grave belonged to that of a veteran, Guillou said. He said military veterans from as far back as the Civil War are buried at St. Joseph's.

"It's a disgrace," he said. "I'm trying to find the right words to describe it. It's just offensive when there are veterans and their graves have been stolen. It's sacreligious to us.

"It's unconsionable to steal from the dead, especially veterans," he added.

The stolen flag stands were made of solid brass. "They don't make them like that anymore," Guillou said.

He said the majority of the stolen flag stands belonged to World War I and II veterans.

"There were some from the Korean War, and there might have been one from Vietnam," he added.

A Cuban flag marker was also among the stands that were stolen.

He said the cemetery has between 4,000 and 5,000 flag stands. This is the first time flag stands have been taken from St. Joseph's Cemetery in Guillou's 14 years as superintendent.


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