Mansfield, Massachusetts – American Military News reported that five out of 350 flags at the Field of Honor in Mansfield were stolen on Saturday. Local citizens, businesses, veterans organizations, police and firefighters sponsor a display of 350 American Flags through the month of May. The suspect took five of them, the ones honoring police, firefighter, POW/MIA, Navy, and hero flags. The entire display this year cost a whopping $42,500.
Every year, Mansfield displays the flags near the town’s Keach Memorial for the people they love. The Field of Honor Committee plants hundreds of flags. They honor military. They honor police and firefighters. They honor the Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action. They honor their local heroes. But the flags aren’t generic, they all have names attached for the loved ones in the community.
“It’s just in honor of people that we love. Everyone here, every flag has a name on it. Every name is someone who has a story that’s not forgotten. They’re loved.” Tina Silverio
A mix of sadness and rage erupted through the town at the news of the flag theft. Who could have done this thing? Surely not a local resident!
According to WCVB, the Mansfield police initiated an intense search, and found the suspect. Det. Sgt. Michael Ellsworth stated that, “Officer Michael Fitzgerald got a lead through old-fashioned police work and information from the community.”
“Old fashioned” policework is about knocking on doors, canvassing neighborhoods to find anyone who might have seen or heard something, or answering phone calls from people who are convinced their weird neighbor did it because of some odd behavior. Not an easy method. Police found him, but it wasn’t what people thought, and the local police had to make a decision.
“It’s important for the public to understand we appreciate and respect the Field of Honor and wanted to find and charge the person responsible for degrading such good work. But sometimes it’s more important to assist people.” Det Ellsworth
The suspect was a Mansfield resident with mental health issues. He admitted the theft, and some of the flags were recovered. The police department’s Problem-Orientated Police program has been working to get the man some help.
The Field of Honor display will be up through June 16.