Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 26, 2018

Grave markers taken

October, 29, 2014
Hayesville, Iowa

To the Editor:
It has come to my attention that military service grave markers have been stolen from the Keota Cemetery and St. Mary’s Cemetery.  The current count of the stolen items is at 89.  Volunteers are taking their time to audit the cemeteries for missing markers so you can expect that number to rise.
I would hope as you read this, you are as disgusted with this as I am.  I was a member of the National Guard, and although I am not classified as a Veteran, I do have a small glimpse into what military personnel endure, and can’t imagine what veterans have sacrificed for our freedoms.  Those freedoms they have worked hard for us to have DOES NOT INCLUDE THEFT OF THEIR PERSONAL PROPERTY.
There are only two groups who can legally have possession of military grave markers:  the Veteran’s Affairs officer in your county; and the deceased veteran (via family).  That grave marker is required to be kept at the grave and must be turned into the Veteran Affairs officer if damaged or destroyed.  NO OTHER INDIVIDUALS HAVE THE RIGHT TO POSSESS OR SELL THESE MARKERS.  If you see these markers at sales or flea markets, consider them stolen property and call law authorities.
Now, to put this into perspective, just those 89 markers will cost the Veterans Affairs office of Keokuk County over $2,500 to replace.  That number is expected to double and the VA is expecting it will cost over $5,000 to ensure all deceased veterans have the appropriate markers since they have been stolen.  Guess where that money will come from.  You got it – from Veteran Services.  Not only has someone stolen almost $5,000 worth of Veterans’ military service markers, but they have successfully deducted $5,000 from the VA budget that would be direct financial relief or provide for Veterans of Keokuk County.
Please contact law enforcement if you see or hear of anyone having these markers.  It is a disgrace, completely disrespectful, and these criminals should be held accountable.

Melissa R. Bird
Keokuk County Recorder/Registrar
Keokuk County Citizen