At the end of November, the thieves strike at night.
For the last 10 years, they have hit like clockwork.
Weeks after Veterans Day, someone steals the American flag and the banner for the U.S. Marine Corps at Glen Haven Memorial Gardens.
“To me that’s disrespectful for all our veterans,” said John Butler, manager of the cemetery on the south side of Bibb County.
The U.S. flag and banners from four branches of service fly over the Veterans Garden.
In the past decade, Butler has come to work at the end of the 11th month and found only the Army, Navy and Air Force flags on their poles.
The culprits leave empty beer cans that litter the grounds near a small stone staircase at the center of the cemetery.
One year, Butler tried to permanently clamp the flag to the pole, but someone must have shimmied up to the top to remove it.
They’ve ripped the lanyards off and destroyed the rigging in some years.
Sometimes he can get the fire department to help him reach the top of the poles to repair the hardware to fly another flag, but this year he had to rent a bucket truck to make repairs.
The job costs $500.
“I’m almost scared to put another flag up there,” Butler said Friday afternoon after flying a new Marine flag, which cost him about $40. “It’s been a costly matter out here. I could have spent that money somewhere else around here.”
Butler can’t fathom why anyone would steal the flags that honor the sacrifices of fallen soldiers.
“In this day and time it doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “I just hope whoever is doing this will stop.”