Vandalized Flags On Veterans Graves Replaced by Volunteers

Columbia, SC (WLTX)- A Columbia cemetery is now replacing the flags, vases that were vandalized this weekend.

Over 175 graves were trampled sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning at the Greenlawn Memorial Park in southeast Columbia. Columbia Police have arrested 24-year-old Justin Beach, charging him with vandalizing graves and burial grounds.

He's under a $25,000 surety bond. 

Monday, volunteers and cemetery leaders tried to make it better by cleaning up the area and replacing the American flags.

As soon as Tony Reid found out about what happened, he decided he needed to do something about it. 

"They were broken off or stuck in upside down," he said.

While his father is buried at Greenlawn, it wasn't his only reason for coming to help.

"To be honest, I looked at that flag and I knew what I had to do," he said. "As a former veteran, I knew what I had to do."

Like Reid, other volunteers, family members, and park officials helped clean up the mess left behind. 

"We will make this right and we will make it right immediately," said Greenlawn Park General Manager Suzanne Elkins says this will propel their safety plans for the cemetery.

'We're working with the Columbia Police Department in setting up where the appropriate places are for cameras," she says.

They're looking into lighting the entrances of the park and the center of the park where most of the vandalism happened.

"We've had so many people reach out to us to help clean up the memorial park that don't even have members buried here, so it's been really a great, great coming together of our community," Elkins says.

Volunteers and cemetery leaders say they wanted to show that what was really important is respecting those trying to rest in peace.

"Something's not right with a person who wants to mess with a grave and especially with a veteran's grave that just kind of broke my heart," Reid said.

The cemetery is planning a cookout this weekend in response to the vandalism.

 

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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