Ace Beam figures the person who stole a Marine Corps flag from a pole in his front yard simply didn’t think a lot about the symbolism and disrespect of such an act.
The Gastonia Marine and Vietnam War veteran doesn’t expect to ever come across the perpetrator. But should that happen, Beam said he’d like to help loosen whatever is clogging up the suspect’s common sense.
“A lot of times for something like this, you get a slap on the wrist,” said Beam, 72. “As far as I’m concerned, if they get the guy, they need to give him a smack on the head.”
Beam has lived at his longtime family home at 416 E. Park Ave. for years. He was forced to move out almost three years ago after a fire severely damaged it, and the city was on the cusp of condemning and razing it due to safety concerns in 2016. But others in the community rallied to help, putting upward of $50,000 into rebuilding much of the structure, which allowed Beam to move back in last year.
Beam served in Vietnam from 1963 to 1967 and has never forgotten his military ties. On three stately poles in his front yard, he has long flown an American flag alongside banners honoring the Marine Corps and American prisoners of war.
The Marine Corps flag was there when he went to sleep last Monday night, but not when he woke up Tuesday morning. He called the police and filed a report, and officers even attempted to get fingerprints off the pole, though nothing concrete has resulted from that.
“I don’t really know why they took it,” said Beam, who said such a flag costs about $50. “It just had to be somebody who either knew me or just wanted it for themselves.”
Beam doesn’t think it’s likely anyone will be caught for the theft. But he reported it with the hope that might happen, and that the person would feel some ridicule and remorse when their name and photo were publicized.
“The only thing I’d say is it’s just a shameful thing he did,” he said.
He soon plans to expand his flag display, putting up more poles and adding banners to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard. He also wants to add a fountain of some sort as a new aesthetic addition at the base.
“When I get finished, it’s going to be a real memorial,” he said.
As for the stolen flag, he hopes the person who has it eventually gains some badly needed perspective.
“When you hang something like that in the name of the Marine Corps, you do it for the men who gave their lives, who were in combat or came back with injuries, both post-traumatic and physical,” he said. “It’s for those guys.”
Anyone with information about the theft should contact the Gastonia Police Department at 704-866-6702.
©2018 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.
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