By Gregory Viens
Back in the early 1980s or so, I was asked by Arthur Williams to clean the leaves, etc. at the three different cemeteries. The last one I did was the South Fayston Cemetery. For years I had been a Revolutionary War reenactor with Herrick’s Rangers. I noticed a gravestone that was Fayston’s only marked Revolutionary grave site. It had a bronze flag marker that was about 6 inches across on a cast round plate with a lip around the front edge. It said, “Revolutionary War Soldier” on its face.
The thing that burnt me was that someone many years past, whether to amuse themselves or to see if their skill as a marksman was good, had shot a hole into its face. I imagine they had to walk up to it to see the hole. I can’t see how careless people can be and with no regard for one of our country’s oldest veteran’s grave. How disgraceful.
As my patriotic duty, I brought the marker home, took it to my brother Fred Viens’ shop and carefully brazed the hole over on both sides, ground the braze down and stoned it smooth to match its original finish. But because the bullet hole was as big as a nickel, there were spider-web fractures on the outer edge of where the hole had been. I brought it back to the cemetery and placed a new flag to be proudly displayed on this old soldier’s grave. It stayed there until the last few years.
Last June, I stopped at the cemetery to check my father’s grave and check around. Right away, I could not see the round disk of that one marker. I went to the grave site and the bronze flag holder I had repaired was gone. I was shocked and then thought maybe the Fayston Cemetery Commissioner have removed it for safe keeping. But then I thought of how certain people would steal copper pipe and pipe fittings of brass and bronze to sell as scrap metal. If this was the case, I thought of how disgraceful this act was. I was angry that someone would steal a war veteran’s flag marker as an antique Vermont souvenir to bring back home or to sell as scrap.
At my brother’s burial, I talked to one of the cemetery commissioners about the flag marker being missing or stolen. The commission was not happy. It’s gotten to a point that the security of dead loved ones, especially the graves of our veterans and their markers are there for someone to take for their own pleasure. Whoever took that Revolutionary War flag marker needs to bring it back for the sake of that old soldier and his grave.
If whoever took the flag marker sold it, I hope they get as good as they dished out because what turns around comes around. If someone out there has seen this bronze oxidized greenish marker, contact the Fayston Cemetery Commission.
Viens lives in North Fayston.