OUR VIEW: There’s no excuse for vandalism

Between Aug. 5 and 14, someone walked into Highland View Cemetery and walked out with nearly 30 flag holders from graves of Civil War veterans.

These markers are probably more than a hundred years old and, frankly, are irreplaceable.

You may have heard that cemeteries across the nation are under attack from people stealing statuaries to sell “for decorative purposes,” to those seeking metal to sell to scrappers.

It’s truly sad that the serenity and sanctity of cemeteries is so unimportant to our society today.

One would hope that township boards, realizing this nationwide attack on cemeteries, would be proactive by closing those under their control after regular working hours.

Many cemeteries do that. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Highland View.

When the cemetery was under the auspices of the City of Big Rapids, the gates always were open in the morning and closed at night by Big Rapids Department of Public Safety officers.

After the annexation fiasco, Big Rapids Township took over the cemetery and decided to leave it unlocked to allow 24-hour access.

This theft could have been prevented if the doors had been shut after normal working hours, as they were in the past.

CEMETERY THEFT: About 30 brass flag holders marking the graves of Civil War veterans recently were stolen from Highland View Cemetery. (Courtesy photo)

Many people have been noticed driving into the cemetery after dark. It is the assumption that they want to visit some long-lost relative.

Yeah, sure thing!

As someone said, perhaps they’re studying cicadas in the Maple trees, or star gazing, or doing grave rubbings, but just maybe – as it is after dark – they’re doing something that might be improper.

A $600 reward has been posted for information leading to the apprehension of those responsible for steeling the markers on the graves of our fallen Civil War veterans.

Call the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office at (231) 592-0150 if you have any information.

And urge Big Rapids Township to assure this doesn’t happen again and lock down the cemetery when the day is over.

After all, the next marker to be vandalized or stolen could be of someone close to your heart.

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