Flags stolen, replaced

Cars lined the entrances to Stephenville’s West End Cemetery on Friday morning as a crowd gathered to honor local veterans by placing the flag they fought under on their graves.

The soldiers in question were Confederate veterans of the Civil War and the crowd was placing the flags a second time because the first round had been found in the trash earlier in the week.

Sheran Weible, president of the Major George B. Erath chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, explained that the UDC places the flags on the graves of Confederate soldiers at East End and West End cemeteries every April in honor of Confederate History Month.

The flags are purchased and provided by the DeLeon chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The groups placed the flags following a March 21 meeting, considering their annual duty done.

Weible was contacted by the Stephenville Police Department on March 26 that half of the flags were found in a nearby dumpster and that all of them had been stolen from the graves where they were placed. Weible was asked if the group wanted to press charges if the culprits were caught and she said that the group would.

Tarleton’s Texan News Service published a story to Facebook that day that inspired debate from the community about the factors that drove the South to fight in the Civil War and whether an American Flag should be placed instead of the Confederate colors. 

Some commentators also suggested placing uniformed guards in Confederate outfits at the cemetery to watch over the grounds and educate people about the South’s role in the Civil War. This suggestion was reportedly inspired by another community where Confederate flags had been stolen from a cemetery.

Some on Facebook suggested that the flags were put where they belonged when they were thrown away.

“Most of the comments were positive,” Weible noted, referring to the many posts that asked for the flags to be replaced and calling for the prosecution of people they deemed had dishonored local veterans. 
Plans were in place by the next day to replace the flags Friday and the news drew a much larger crowd, including some from Weatherford, other community members and John McCammon, the Lt. Commander of the Sons of

Confederate Veterans who traveled in from San Antonio.

“I want to congratulate you on standing up for your rights and your families,” McCammon said to the crowd before they were separated into groups to place the 100 flags. Teams consisted of three people placing flags and one spotter with a map of the plots to guide volunteers to veterans’ graves.

Weible said the extra hands reduced the work from the average three hours to one hour.

When asked to comment on the theft and discarding of the flags, Weible said, “It made me very sad to think someone would do that. They are veterans.”

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