Cowardly Grave-Robbers Defile the Final Resting Place of Veteran Heroes

Medallion of bronze shown just under the American Flag. (Photo: Public Domain)

Medallion of bronze shown just under the American Flag. (Photo: Public Domain)

August 25, 2016

By Lorra B.

In a despicable show of the ugly and cowardly side of the human condition, thieves vandalized and robbed many graves of our veteran heroes in Laporte, Indiana.

Over 300 medallions of bronze were snatched from Patton Cemetery, according to The South Bend Tribune.

The resolve of our military heroes, however, show no boundaries and veterans are banding together to raise the money needed to replace the precious medallions that honor our fallen.

James Hiles, the financial officer for the American Legion Post 83, stated, ”People don’t have any morals anymore, apparently.”

With appalling acts of vandalism such as this being done against the very heroes protecting the lives and rights of even these wicked individuals, it’s hard not to reach the same conclusion.

“’This isn’t just a piece of bronze. This means somebody’s life has been given for this country,” Hiles went on to say.

An employee at a post near the cemetery, Bridgett Smith, stated, “We switched to a cheaper metal that’s not expensive, and they’re not taking those.”

The thieves are not even after the bronze medallions but the brass rods that holds the medallions in place. The brass rods they can sell but the medallions would be recognized and draw the attention of the police. The bronze medals, therefore, are simply tossed away like so much trash.

Each piece of Bronze ‘trash’ snatched from a heroes resting place reportedly cost $35 each. Because of this, military officials will now be replacing the bronze with a much less costly material, aluminum and steel. The cost of the new medallions will be as low as $13 a piece.

The American Legion has already raised close to $2,000 to not only replace the stolen medallions but medallions for our future veteran heroes as well.

Post commander Wayne Zeman stated, “It’s bad enough robbing graves and robbing veteran’s graves of, like I said, in a lot of cases the only thing that notates it’s a veteran’s grave in the first place.”

There should be a special place in prison for the unconscionable deeds of these cowards.

Related Videos:

Grave Robbery, Military medallions

By Lorra B.

22 thoughts on “Cowardly Grave-Robbers Defile the Final Resting Place of Veteran Heroes

  1. Like many today, this story found by Lorra is something to make most people furious.

    I choose not to be so and instead provider with a link to all the symbols allowed in a military cemetery.

    Brought to us by the National Cemetery Administration, the Department of Veterans affairs. (Source)

    In the event your readers would like to view my entire take, the link below will take them there. Enjoy

    https://whatyouthoughtiwentaway.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/cowardly-grave-robbers-defile-the-final-resting-place-of-veteran-heroes/

    Just like the entire VA system is should also be privatized.
    Why should taxpayers pay retirement and health care benefits for something that can obviously be done better and at less expense in the private sector?

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  2. Here is a complete listing of all of the symbols used in a military cemetery for those of our fallen, past and for the future.

    Guide to Symbols and Emblems of Arlington National Cemetery Headstones

    The Department of Army that runs Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), in keeping with Department of Veteran Affairs protocols, only allows certain graphics on government issues headstones. As you walk through the cemetery on one of our self guided tours or with our guided walking tour, you can use the guide below to understanding the basics of the symbols on government issued and personal markers.

    Be sure to check out some frequently asked questions about the cemetery as well as our guide to visiting ANC.

    RELIGIOUS EMBLEMS

    The simple white marble headstones often have a religious symbol on the top. There are 60 approved religious symbols and a system in place should families petition for a new symbol. The religious symbols, and any other approved graphics, are allowed in black only.

    The most common is the Latin Cross. On some headstones this cross is inscribed in a circle, this is not a different symbol but rather an earlier engraver. The earlier Christian symbol was a Latin Cross with a circle around it and was used on the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. After the 1980s and the regulation of symbols, the circle was no longer used. Representing the Christian faith, this is the most commonly seen religious symbol.
    IMG_1418IMG_1419IMG_1432IMG_1431IMG_1420

    Other symbols are the Star of David (Jewish), Lutheran Cross, Russian Orthodox Cross, Cross and Crown (First Church of Christ, Scientist) and Presbyterian Cross – all seen above respectively.

    Recently, petitions were made to include new religious symbols such as the pentagram for Wiccan beliefs and the Hammer of Thor for the Heathen religions. There are at least five identified Wiccans buried in Arlington. Some of whom, including Private Abe Kooiman, requested that the symbol be added once it was approved as he died 5 years before it was allowed.IMG_1422

    For a .pdf version of all the religious emblems available to veterans, click here.

    The addition of a religious emblem is a personal choice and is not required. By default, military issued headstone list the name of the deceased, the years of birth and death, and branch of service. Families may request, at the government’s expense: military grade, rank or rate; war service (such as “World War II”); months and days of birth and death; an emblem reflecting one’s beliefs; valor awards received; and the Purple Heart. Not all headstones bear a religious emblem.

    IMG_1427Earlier graves in Section 27 have a different style than the military headstones seen elsewhere in the cemetery. These Citizen and Civilian headstones mark the burial sites of poor freed men, women and children who were interred in Arlington National Cemetery at the government’s expense after the Civil War. To keep with the aesthetic of overwhelming rows upon rows of white headstones, these replacement headstones are similar in appearance to the military headstones apart from the inscriptions.

    For many years, Section 27 was an area that was somewhat segregated from the rest of the cemetery. Here you will also find many of graves of soldiers in the United States Colored Troops. Their graves are marked with the initials U.S.C.T.

    MILITARY EMBLEMS

    The available emblems for use on military headstones are not limited to religious ones.IMG_1417

    Pre World War I era headstones are inscribed differently. The Civil War Union shield is available for those who served in the Civil War fighting the Union, or for those who served in the Spanish American War. Within the shield is the arched name of the deceased and his abbreviated military organization. The dates of birth and death are listed below. Due to restrictions of space, no religious symbol is listed.

    Confederate soldiers from the Civil War also have distinct markers. The Confederate Southern Cross of Honor is inscribed at the top above the arched name, military organization and dates of birth and death. To provide an obvious distinction of Confederate graves, instead of a rounded top to the marble headstone, Confederate graves are pointed. The common joke is that the Southern war veterans didn’t want “Yankee” soldiers to sit on the graves. The Confederate Soldiers section at Arlington National Cemetery was redesigned with new headstones made at the turn of the 20th century.

    The only other permitted graphic on a government issued headstone is the insignia of the Medal of Honor. The original design for the MOH was designed for the Navy and shortly thereafter another for the Army, both during the Civil War. The design is an inverted star with Minerva in the center, surrounded by laurel and oak leaf clusters, and stars to represent the States. Through the years, only slight changes have been made. A 1904 version of the MOH depicts the Goddess of War instead of Minerva. The Air Force uses the head of the Statue of Liberty.
    Medal of Honor recipients are eligible to have the insignia carved into their marker, underneath their name at the expense of the military. For Civil War and Spanish American War MOH recipients, the insignia is underneath the arch of the name.

    For those eligible individuals who are buried at sea, remains are donated to science, or cremated remains are scattered, there is an option for a memorial marker. This is also used for those remains that are unidentified or not recovered. Many of these men and women are still Missing In Action. These memorial markers have inscribed at the top In Memory Of below any religious emblem but above the name.

    Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr has a memorial marker near his brothers’ graves at the Kennedy Memorials. His remains were never found after a premature explosion during a mission during WWII.

    Not every headstone in Arlington National Cemetery is paid for by the government. For those individuals who desire a different headstone, as long as there is space available in an older section of the cemetery and the additional costs is covered by the family, larger headstones are permitted.

    There are still requirements regarding the style and size. Personal markers and monuments of freestanding cross design, narrow shafts, mausoleums, or overground vaults are not allowed, though underground vaults are permitted. Any personal design must be apIMG_1435proved by the cemetery, including what type of graphic and information may be used so as to remain in keeping with the dignity of the area.

    Many of those who elect to pay for their own personal headstones use military insignia to mark their rank, branch, or unit.

    Crossed swords and rifles are common. They are not specific to a branch of military and are used to denote a veteran, usually an officer. Colonel Witte served in the US Army from 1939-1969 earning many combat and campaign medals.IMG_1434

    The opened winged emblem, as seen above Colonel Michie, denotes Air Force. However, there are many variations with specific details to mark specific ranks – from pilot wings to senior flight nurse. The type of shield and presence and design of the star on the top change depending on the certain position of the deceased. The striped shield and laurel surround the star mark Michie earned his Command Pilot Wings.

    The United States Navy also has it’s own emblems, often involving an anchor. The USN superimposed over an anchor with the two stars show that Alphonse J. Vacca was a Master Chief Petty Officer for the US Navy. This IMG_1436symbol is the same as used on the collar device of those with that rank.

    IMG_1438The caduceus, as seen on Captain Spencer Johnson’s grave, is actually the symbol of messengers but since the early 1900s has been used to denote those in the medical field. A short herald’s staff wrapped by two serpents were used on Army medical uniforms and have been common on medical corps and nurses corps grave markers since then.
    IMG_1440The Castle on General Shingler’s grave is the logo of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The origins of this tradition is unknown, but the Corps officially adopted the logo in 1902. It was unofficially used well before, possibly dating back to the American Revolution.

    The graves of higher rank official will often have stars at the top. These correspond with their rank, such as five star general Omar Bradley, who has five stars carved into his headstone. There are five five-star officers buried at Arlington: Admiral William D. Leahy, General George C. Marshall, General Henry F. Arnold, Admiral William F. Halsey, and General Omar N. Bradley.

    – See more at: http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/guide-symbols-emblems-arlington-national-cemetery-headstones/#sthash.OlmegaHS.dpuf

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  3. This is so despicable. It just shows how debased our Nation has become. It saddens me that so many feel that no one deserves our respect. It does trickle down from the top.
    I survey a lot of cemeteries for genealogy research and cataloging. You’ll be happy to note that when I, and other genealogists, are in the cemeteries, we fix a lot of fallen or broken items on graves, no matter who they are. I think we’ll find that most people are the same way. It’s just the bad apples that get noticed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. OHHHHHHH you do not need or what my comment on this…Rifleman, my husbands grandfather and father’s graves were vandalized…flags torn or simply gone. I can’t tell you how many flags we have continue to put up…these folks are not going to get the better of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sad. But a showing of the ‘different compass’ taking over (immoral, unethical) and that mindset begins at the top and trickles down. Where the grave robbers steal from off the grave, those at the top steal from the living and the dead, both! No amateurs in the usurper camp and the worst gets rewarded favorably. These heinous crimes wax worse if not stopped!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Reblogged this on and commented:
    My father’s grave, in New York, was also vandalized. I used to place an American flag there, because he was 82d Abn on D-Day. Someone was snapping the wood flag dowel and the flag thrown or tossed away, alway found it on the ground. A new disrespectful America.

    Liked by 4 people

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