Plaques stolen from graves of veterans

missing veterans plaques Magnolia Cemetery RagleyOver the weekend several plaques were removed from the graves of veterans at Magnolia Cemetery in Ragley. Authorities are seeking information on the thefts. 

Trish Welch / Special to the American Press

The Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft of several bronze plaques removed overnight from the graves of veterans at Magnolia Cemetery in Ragley.

According to authorities, the thefts occurred on two separate nights over the weekend. On Saturday morning, a widow found that the plaque on her husband’s grave had been removed and upon further inspection found another to be missing from a grave nearby.

On Sunday, three more plaques had gone missing.

Cemetery manager Trish Welch said the thefts hit “close to the heart” for anyone who has had a loved one serve in the military, and that it struck a chord with the local community.

“This is a punch in the gut for these families. These plaques are incredibly sentimental to the families of a veteran, but they also represent sacrifices made and earn respect from others who observe them,” Welch told the American Press.

The bronze plaques are awarded to a veteran or service member’s family upon the service member’s death, and are installed on the gravesite after burial. Each plaque displays the service member’s name, rank and lists commendations received during their time of service.

On Monday, Welch said one plaque had mysteriously reappeared at a gravesite at the cemetery. She said the plaque appeared to have been put back in place and then covered with mud and grass.Magnolia Cemetery.jpgLocated on Magnolia Cemetery Road in Ragley, the cemetery is the final resting place of more than 166 military veterans, as well as 12 confederate soldiers.

Trish Welch / Special to the American Press

“We don’t know the circumstances surrounding its return, but we are grateful to have it back,” she stated.

BPSO sheriff-elect Mark Herford told the American Press that deputies have increased patrols through the area this week and will continue to carefully monitor the area.

“We take this matter very seriously and we are doing everything we can to find the person or persons responsible,” Herford stated.

A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered by Crimestoppers for any information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for the thefts, but Welch said more than anything the families just wish to have all the plaques returned.

“The main goal here is to just get the plaques back for these families,” she stated. “I’m not sure what they are worth to anyone else, but to the surviving families they are priceless.”

Located on Magnolia Cemetery Road, the cemetery is the final resting place of more than 166 military veterans, as well as 12 confederate soldiers.

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