Memorial Park Cemetery won’t have its traditional “avenue of flags” lining both the entrance and most of the cemetery this Memorial Day.
Members of the Lawrence Veterans of Foreign Wars post recently discovered they were missing a trailer with the 300 flagpoles they use to display the American flags over the holiday weekend.
“I apologize to the Lawrence community that we’re unable to put up the avenue of flags,” said post commander Fred Shockey. “Everything else will go according to plan. We’ll have the ceremony. We’ll still put the flags out on the gravestones. Hopefully throughout next year we’ll be able to put together a fundraiser to replace the poles.”
Shockey said the post had owned the poles, some of which included brass plaques honoring veterans who have died, for an estimated 30 to 40 years. The poles, which included special hooks, were stored on a trailer on the post property, 138 Ala.
Members last saw the trailer in February, and they made a report to police last week once they couldn’t find it while trying to make Memorial Day preparations. Shockey said if the trailer and poles were stolen, suspects likely would have noticed the brass plaques on some of the poles. Post members have checked with area metal recycling businesses, but no one had seen them.
Shockey asks anyone with information to call police at 785-832-7509.
Post members estimate they would need 25 poles, which cost an estimated $30 each, just to line 15th Street and the entrance to the cemetery, which is only part of what they normally do for the weekend.
But Shockey said they don’t have enough time to raise the money only a few days before Memorial Day.
“I know that’s pretty important to a lot of people. I apologize,” he said. “With the short time line, we just can’t come up with those kinds of funds.”
The VFW plays host to an 11 a.m. ceremony on Monday at Memorial Park Cemetery in east Lawrence after the American Legion post’s ceremony at Oak Hill Cemetery. Shockey said post members will still begin preparing the cemetery on Saturday morning, including placing small flags at gravesides. They also plan to work throughout the year to raise funds to buy 300 new poles for Memorial Day 2013.