Betty Smith, 75, a retired Christian school teacher in El Cajon, awakened on Veterans Day to find the American flag in front of her house stolen. She told ABC News’ San Diego affiliate: “It amazes me that anyone would do it…It makes me feel bad that somebody doesn’t care about our veterans enough to leave the flag up.”
ABC10 News in San Diego reported that Smith indicated that stealing the flag was not an easy task: “The pole went from here through here and the flag was up there…and the flag was tied all the way down all along the pole and looped around here and tied. So whoever took it had to be either 10 feet tall or have a step ladder.”
The teacher pointed out that the flag had emotional resonance because her brother, an Air Force veteran from New Hampshire, had given it to her, and she felt it honored his courage. “He sent me flags because he knew I couldn’t afford to buy them.”
Smith has lived in her home for 47 years, and flew the flag every day.
Despite the loss of her flag and its message for veterans, Smith had another message for those in the service: “Just thank you, boys and girls.”
Smith had a message for the thief, too: “Enjoy my flag.”
Smith is not alone; a family in Millville, Minnesota also had their flag stolen on Veterans Day, according to southern Minnesota NBC News affiliate KTTC. The Nielsen family received their flag from their son in the U.S. Air Force, who had toured in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. They own the Millville Café, where the flag was displayed.
Kris Nielsen, the owner, said, “Something was missing and when I looked, it was the flag.”
His second daughter, Mindy Bedsted, commented sadly, “We’re really hurt. We’re really good people, and my dad has always taught us honesty: no cheating, stealing, lying and that’s a big slap in the face to us. Especially with it being Veterans Day.”