LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – This problem started at the Island Pond Cemetery three years ago, and now it’s spread to four more cemeteries. Thieves are stealing one of the last gifts given to the men and women who’ve served our country; the bronze flag holders that the Town of Ludlow places on each veteran’s grave site.
Ludlow Veteran’s Services Director Eric Segundo told 22News that all of the bronze flag holders have been replaced with plastic holders over the last year. The one exception: Civil War soldiers’ grave sites, to keep the heritage of the monument.
Segundo says that once the thieves take these bronze flag holders, they melt down the metal and then sell it. According to Chett’s Scrap Metal in Springfield, the price of bronze right now is about $1.00 per pound.
Most of the remaining bronze flag holders have been properly disposed of by the Ludlow DPW. Some were donated to other cemeteries. Segundo said families weren’t notified because the flag holders weren’t their property. “We as a town put them on there and have placed an American flag on them,” says Segundo. “That’s all town property. We are still honoring their service, and it still designates what era of service they are. It’s just a plastic form now because it’s cheaper to make.”
Segundo worked with the legislature to pass a law last November making it a crime to steal or buy bronze flag holders. If you’re convicted of stealing or buying these flag holders, you’re subject to a $5,000 fine.