Monday, August 9, 2021, the Anderson Police Department in California found an 80 ft. American flag draped over Cottonwood school covered in graffiti. Someone stole the flag from Camping World, vandalized it, and left a note on a cardboard box near Camping World’s front door.
Though the note is difficult to read, the reasoning seems to be because children are dying on Gas Point Road due to a lack of crosswalks. According to the thief, the city is also doing nothing about it.
Additionally, the criminal caused the flag to collapse by cutting the internal wire inside the flag pole. The flag’s lighting and counterweight were also destroyed, meaning the flag no longer had support to remain upright. The flag falling dented Camping World’s roof as well.
Veterans and Community Support American Flags
Sean Freyne and Jason Danielson, two veterans working at Camping World, talked to reporters and noted half the staff there are veterans. Naturally, many of them were upset with the situation.
“To have someone who may or may not have experienced what we did, to do something to that flag in that nature is extremely personal and hurtful more so than someone coming up to me and punching me in the face,” Danielson told reporters. “I think I’m more hurt by this than any kind of physical violence that could happen to me.”
The flag happened to be brand new, with Camping World acquiring it only two weeks ago. Freyne is hoping the graffiti can be cleaned off, otherwise, it will need to be replaced.
Despite the bad news, community support is strong. Freyne remarks “I’ve had people offer to do a fundraiser. We’re not looking for any financial support on this, we’re going to get that flag back up in the air and we’re going to fly it high, we’re going to fly it proudly, and we’re going to pray that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”
Freyne also reports replacing it could cost up to $5,000. While the flag itself would be approximately $2,000, a new pole and installation specialist would cost $3,000.
However, Wednesday morning, Camping World did replace it and held a flag ceremony in their parking lot. The company raised a new 80ft flag and dedicated it to veterans and active service members.
Dave Korpi, Camping World’s General Manager, notes the flag dedication is company-wide. “Everybody from the store just about was out here watching. The excitement just built up the closer it got to raising the flag. It’s just a great thing to honor the country and honor the veterans and the people that are serving now.”
Police announced the criminal will face felony vandalism charges if caught. Further, they request anyone with relevant information pertaining to the incident contact them.
While this isn’t the first crime involving an American flag, it’s nice to see a happy ending.