Twelve miles north of Sistersville, rows of red, white and blue, steeped in symbolism, drift carefree in the wind along W.Va. 2. A "field of flags" - 6,198 to date - serving as a silent memorial to honor the American soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and guardsmen who have lost their lives during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The traveling monument was created to honor the fallen and lift up their families by providing an atmosphere of remembrance, a sense of healing and a bond of unity. But a recent act of vandalism has the community, as well as the staff of the Tyler Star News, seething with disgust and disbelief.
At approximately 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 19, two "male subjects" were caught "plucking" flags from the south end of the field. However, witnesses to the act of vandalism made the "boys" return the flags to their rightful place. A grainy photograph, which made its way around Facebook last Friday, serves as evidence of the heinous act of disrespect.
This world we live in is riddled with tastelessness. Even though people have the license and the freedom that permits free speech, it is unfortunate when the mishandling of patriotic symbols proves a complete disrespect for the sacrifices of our troops. Are we so ungrateful to those who fight daily for our freedoms, that we can justify the desecration of a memorial to the fallen?
Some pranks are funny, some pranks are stupid. And some are inexcusable. What these two males did - we hesitate to call them men - falls into the last category. Every flag in that field stands for the loss of a life, and the sacrifice of a family.
To those responsible for removing the flags - shame on you! Your disgraceful conduct, lack of respect and total disregard for the sacrifices these American heroes and their families have made to ensure your freedom, is appalling!