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Groundhogs Stealing Flags at New York Cemetary
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February 2 is known as Groundhog’s Day in the United States but now they have begun to overtake the grounds at a Hudson, New York cemetery. Workers at the Cedar Park Cemetery have placed flags at the gravesites of Civil War soldiers in honor of Independence Day but in the past two years, those flags have mysteriously disappeared. Last July 4, many of the flags were found in the graves of Jewish soldiers. This year, missing flags were found on the graves of black soldiers, according to cemetery caretaker Vincent Wallace. Heading up to July 4 this year, there were 75 flags missing from graves, with 17 disappearing on one night.

“I just can’t comprehend the mindset that would allow someone to do this,” said Wallace. Wallace is a 43-year veteran of the United States Army National Guard. After the flags were stolen for a third time, police set up surveillance cameras to find out just what was happening in the cemetery. Police found out from their surveillance video that people are not stealing the flags, groundhogs are committing the thefts. The video did not show any people in the cemetery at night moving the flags from one location to another. Instead, the groundhogs were taking the flags underground, possibly for dinner.

  
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“When the police responded and opened up the surveillance cameras, we were startled to find that a woodchuck was sitting there at the base of the gravestone with an empty flag pole in front of him,” Wallace said.

Hudson Mayor Bill Hallenbeck was thrilled to learn that the thieves were not human. “I’m glad we don’t have someone who has taken it upon themselves to desecrate the stones and the flags in front of them.”

The flags were mounted on wooden poles, which apparently attracted the groundhogs, which has caused the city to take measures to use flags with non-wooden poles. “We patrolled the daylights out of that place since it was going on,” said Gary Graziano, the police commissioner. “We can all rest a little easier knowing that it was a critter and not a human defacing our flags, especially those of the veterans. Now I just need to figure out where to send the bills.”

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Bob Will, an expert on groundhogs, hopes that animals are not destroyed but instead moved to another area because of their actions. Will has worked for decades caring for injured, sick and unwanted groundhogs.

“They really are an animal that doesn’t do anything bad, and they shouldn’t be destroyed just for the lark of it,” Will said.





 

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