May 21, 2014

York County vets outraged after American flags knocked over in cemetery

Veterans service organizations in York County put up more than 7,000 flags over the weekend, and someone broke some of them.

Some veterans in York County are outraged after several American flags planted in the ground to mark the graves of military veterans were knocked over and broken this week.

Lloyd Comer, a disabled decorated Vietnam War veteran who serves on the Honor Guard at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2889, has helped plant the flags for years. He and his brother worked late Monday at Rock Hill’s Forest Hills Cemetery on S.C. 161 to replant about a dozen flags that had been upended or had their small wooden sticks broken.

Service organizations had planted more than 7,000 flags over the weekend at several area cemeteries.

“I’m a Vietnam veteran, and I guess I am used to getting kicked around ever since,” Comer said. “But yes, I was upset.”

City officials were made aware of the situation Wednesday and began investigating, said Mike Thompson, superintendent of the three city-owned cemeteries.

A lawn contractor mowed the grounds at Forest Hills Monday, city spokesperson Katie Quinn said, and apparently damaged some of the flags that had been put out in advance of Memorial Day. The damage was accidental, Quinn said, but city officials talked to the contractor to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Boyd Comer, Lloyd Comer’s twin brother who is active at both the American Legion and VFW, is one of the organizers of the annual service project the week before Memorial Day. Dozens of volunteers from the VFW, American Legion Post 34, Rolling Thunder, York County’s branch of Disabled Veterans of America and other groups helped plant the flags Saturday and Sunday. The veterans groups buy the flags and put them up each year the week before Memorial Day at no cost to taxpayers.

“It just shows no respect at all for the American flag,” Boyd Comer said. “We had people disabled from combat out there putting these flags out, and this is how somebody treats the flag? Break the pole? Leave that flag on the ground next to a grave of somebody who fought under that flag? It’s horrible, is what it is.”

At about lunchtime Wednesday, three broken flags could be seen in one part of the cemetery, but it was unclear if they had been damaged Monday or more recently.

“Next time, hopefully, it can be worked out where the flags go up after the grass is cut, or they don’t cut the grass after the flags are up,” Lloyd Comer said. “Those flags mean a lot to people like me who fought for that flag.”

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