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thedrifter
05-10-06, 07:28 AM
Vandalism of flags sparks donations
By TOBY HENRY
Union Leader Correspondent

RAYMOND – Veterans and town officials say they've received an outpouring of donations after an act of vandalism over the weekend resulted in the destruction of nine flags at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4479 building.

Resident Cilla Clements, who discovered the tattered flags hanging along the edge of the prominent Main Street building at about 5:30 Saturday morning, said she was horrified by the senseless crime. But since her first call to police that morning, more than $700 has been donated to replace the flags, which were valued at between $50 and $100 apiece.

And on Sunday morning, Goffstown-based Jutras Signs dropped off five service flags representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

"They just drove into the parking lot, dropped off the flags and drove away," she said. "We didn't even ask them for help. This is something that's really touched everyone, not just (members of) our local posts. It's been quite a weekend."

Cathy Champagne, who owns and operates the 46-year-old Jutras Signs flag and pennant company alongside her husband Joe, said she was irate after hearing about the crime.

"We were really mad, and it made us want to do something," she said. "It's a situation where you want to do something more than what the vandal did."

The VFW building, located at 39 Main St., is also the headquarters for the town's American Legion Post 90. VFW Commander Don Smith said the nine flags destroyed represented the five branches of the service as well as the organizations themselves and their auxiliaries for wives and children of veterans.

But Smith, Clement and others say the damage wasn't as bad as it could have been. The vandal also cut the cord to the nearby flagpole in an apparent attempt to slash to pieces the Prisoners-of-War flag and national ensign, but the two flags latched onto a bracket mid-way down the pole and were spared after they were caught at half-staff.

"And the POW's flag was holding up the American flag, as if our prisoners of war were keeping our flag from touching the ground," she said. "It was a very sad sight, but very symbolic."

Police are still investigating the case, and a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction has been put forward. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the Raymond Police Department at 895-0914.

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Nine flags at the VFW post in Raymond were vandalized last weekend. (COURTESY PHOTO)