HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - The American Flag is the symbol of our nation and often stands at the resting place of veterans to recognize their service, but dozens of flags placed at the graves in one Hot Springs cemetery wound up in the trash. It is a disgrace the Veterans of Foreign Wars said it's now trying to correct.
Tish Tucker visits her father's grave at Oak Grove Cemetery every week, laying flowers and paying her respects, but last Saturday, she and her husband made a disheartening discovery.
"It's just heartbreaking to spend the money to come over here and feel at peace, and your stuff is down the side of a hill," said Tucker.
Tucker discovered nearly every grave, including her father's, was stripped of flowers. what upset her even more was the fact that American flags placed on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day were also thrown in the trash.
"None of the flags that I saw were torn or tattered. They were all brand new flags. All the flowers were brand new," said Tucker.
"Someone didn't know how to dispose of the flags or have somebody dispose of them. It was sad," added VFW Post 2278 Commander Will Beams Jr.
Beams said he heard about the improper disposal through the local newspaper. He went out to the cemetery and recovered 19 flags himself.
"Now that we've recovered them, there is a ceremony that is dictated by the U.S. Flag code for properly retiring the flag, and it does go along with an appropriate burning and a burying of the ashes," explained Beams.
Beams believes it is an honest mistake on the part of the cemetery. His post plans to replace each flag this Friday morning and hold a special ceremony for the veterans affected.
"American service members have fought and died for those colors since we became a country. It represents every person who has died in service to this country. It's pretty important," finished Beams.
THV 11 spoke with one of the board members for Oak Grove Cemetery. They said all this is a misunderstanding between the board and the mowers hired to keep up the cemetery. They said they regret the mistake but are glad the VFW is helping replace the flags with new ones.
The VFW said they are happy to properly dispose of any flags for anyone that needs their assistance and that goes for every VFW across the country. They said they do it free of charge. All you have to do is give your local chapter a call.