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Large American flag stolen from LA national veterans cemetery

Left; the large Garrison flag, on Memorial Day 2020. On the right; the substitute flag on May 31, 2021. Photos: Carlos Casillas Gómez

On Memorial Day, officials said the Garrison flag, which measures 20 feet by 30 feet, was missing from the United States National Cemetery located in West LA

By: Carlos J. Casillas G.

Volunteers at the Los Angeles National Cemetery discovered the brazen theft Monday morning, shortly before a Memorial Day ceremony was set to take place on the site, according to federal officials.

There was no official Memorial Day ceremony this year. Some graves never even got flags. But those who came say you don’t need a flyover, or officials, to remember.

Officials say it usually takes four people to stretch and fold the flag, given the large size.

Les’ Melnyk, a spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration, said the Garrison flag at Los Angeles National Cemetery was reported stolen sometime late Sunday or early Monday.

The cemetery’s gates were closed at the time, Melnyk said.

Veterans Affairs police are investigating the theft of the flag, which measures 25 feet by 30 feet, Melnyk said.

The crime “cannot detract in the slightest way from the honor and respect we pay on this Memorial Day to those service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation,” Melnyk said.

Authorities said that at some point Sunday night or early Monday morning, someone jumped the fence, broke in and took the Garrison flag, as well as other flags.

Rebekah Adams, a volunteer at the Los Angeles National Cemetery Support Foundation, said it would be difficult to remove the flag that is usually handled by three people.

To steal the flag that flies above the men and women, who served in the military, and even died during their service, is beyond hurtful. The least we can do for those buried here, is honor them and remember them, and this is such a disservice to them,” Adams told The Associated Press.

Officials said there was nothing left at the scene that would indicate the potential suspects but were in the process of canvassing surveillance footage.

No one has been arrested in the case. Authorities said they would review surveillance footage to try to identify possible suspects.