The flag flown at Las Animas Cemetery was stolen. In recent months several flags have been stolen from various public places in the greater Lower Arkansas Valley area.

The American flag normally flown at the Las Animas Cemetery was stolen last week. This instance of theft followed the theft of another flag donated to the La Junta Train Park in July by Wayne Walters. Locals speculated who the perpetrators were; theories ranged from kids being kids and just playing pranks to someone or some persons with politically charged motives.

Richard Devlin, commander of the Fort Lyon American Legion, felt disparaged when he learned of the flag’s theft. “To me, it just shows no respect,” said Devlin. “Not only to the soldiers and the veterans, but it’s in an area where everybody’s very patriotic.” Devlin is quite in tune with the locals of Las Animas and does a lot for the community. He’s in the midst of preparing about 100 bicycles for an annual toy drive in the region. He recently opened a shop where he hosts weekly American Legion meetings and shares some of the building’s facilities with residents of Fort Lyon, a rehabilitative facility for homeless veterans.

Devlin is a himself a veteran and was once a resident of Fort Lyon. When he learned of the flags theft he was upset; its rope was cut in order for the thief to retrieve it. “Hopefully it’s a prank and somebody will return it or leave it with the authorities,” Devlin said. “Or at least leave with somewhere with a note that says, ‘I’m making amends, please forgive me.’” He didn’t need to know who took it. All that mattered was that it was returned in good repair.

Devlin asked that anyone with information about where it could have gone to contact the Bent County Sheriff’s Department. He was also adamant that local residences shouldn’t take matters into their own hands. “I highly recommend no vigilante stuff,” he said. “It’s just the wrong way to do things. If we go about it that way then we’re not any better than the person who took it.

Jody Bracy of the American Legion and Patriot Guard Riders echoed that sentiment. "I hope that whoever took it will do the right thing and turn it in somewhere,” she said. "And if anyone has any information about who’s been stealing flags around here, that they will turn that over to law enforcement — and to not resort to vigilantism, or to take matters into their own hands.”

Months back, when Wayne Walter’s donated flag was stolen just nine days after being installed, Walter reported that the La Junta Train Park flag was taken by a male and female in a white Nissan Pathfinder. They also attempted to take the one at the La Junta Livestock, but a man on the grave shift spotted them and they fled.

If you have information regarding the theft of the Las Animas Cemetery American flag, please contact the Bent County Sheriff’s Department.