Employees at a South Carolina funeral home reported that they showed up to work the day after Independence Day to find American flags stolen from a veterans cemetery and placed in a pile where they were burned.
21 flags were destroyed, according to CNN. The McDougald Funeral Home operates in Anderson, South Carolina, southwest of Greenville.
"We've put flags out for as long as I can remember," owner Douglas McDougald said, referring to the cemetery’s Fourth of July tradition. "We've never had a problem."
The political climate has shifted, though, with harsh criticism of America, the Betsy Ross flag, and the D.C. “Salute to America” celebration flooding in on the week of the holiday. A communist group even burned a flag in front of the White House on July 4, USA Today reported.
“On the night of July the 4th, someone pulled up 21 American Flags that lined the roadway to our Veteran's Mausoleum and had the nerve to burn them, yes burn them, on the lawn in the cemetery right in front of where our Veteran's and their families rest in peace,” the McDougald Funeral Home wrote on their Facebook page.
“Should you have any information about the vandals that disrespected the very one's that provided our country's freedom to celebrate this holiday please contact us at 864-224-4343 or at our cemetery office at 864-225-1636,” they added.
Authorities are investigating the incident and looking for possible vandals.
"We have always embraced and honored our veterans and it's something we feel is important," owner McDougald said. "We can replace the flags; it's just the hurt of those families who have had people buried there and to find they had burned 21 flags.
“It really disappoints you."
There was no surveillance video of the suspected vandalism, according to NBC affiliate WYFF. While the graves were reported to be undamaged, other damage may have occurred at the cemetery since the cost of repairs has been estimated to be $1,260.