Report by Paula Antolini, July 18, 2021, 6:45PM EDT
To the editor,
As co-president of the Bethel Women’s Club GFWC, I want to express my utter disgust with a segment of our population that appear to have no respect for our flag or for the men and women who have served our country throughout the years to guarantee our freedom.
With the exception of last year, due to the pandemic, the club has been putting flags honoring veterans around the gazebo at the Bethel Municipal Center for more than a decade. We sell flags to those in the community who want to honor a veteran. For $10, we put the name of the honored veteran, past or present, on a ribbon and sew it onto the flag. We place the flags out before Memorial Day and leave them up for several weeks. All proceeds from the sale go to local homeless veterans living in area group homes.
Regrettably, this year our flags have been vandalized and stolen. The first time we discovered this was the day after Memorial Day, we simply could not believe our eyes. We know for a fact that the display was in tact on the Friday before Memorial Day, so the vandalism and theft took place during Memorial Day weekend. As upsetting as that was, we chose to replace the flags and continue with our display that was supposed to run until July 9.
Then on June 23, when I happened to drive by, there were only two flags on display. I went into Town Hall and discovered that a town employee had retrieved our flags after finding them being vandalized. We thank that employee, as we did get back a good number of our flags, but sadly we chose to end the display.
For the life of me, I do not understand how this vandalism and theft could take place right in front of Town Hall. Our club members are all very disappointed. Who in our lovely little town has such disrespect for our flag, our veterans, our entire community?
Kathleen A. Aiello is co-president of the Bethel Women’s Club GFWC.