Stolen flag raises sorrow

Woman flew it in honor of son who is overseas on his 8th deployment

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 

Day or night for 10 years, Jann Byrd has flown the same American flag outside of her Lincoln neighborhood house.

The symbol, she said, is in honor of her son, who serves in the military and is currently overseas.

The 24/7 gesture, she said, is important, "because he's over there all the time," she said.

One morning in late November, however, she noticed that someone had torn down the yellow ribbon she keeps tied to her trees. Then, she looked up and saw that the rope holding the flag was broken and the 3-by-5-foot flag was gone.

"It makes me sad. … I can't replace it," she said.

Her son, William F. Byrd IV, is a graduate of Hudson's Bay High School and a major in the U.S. Army. He is stationed in Afghanistan on his eighth deployment.

On a previous tour, William bought his mother the flag with hand-sewn stars.

"It meant a lot," she said.

Flag etiquette taught her to keep a spotlight aimed at the flag at night. But the light, she said, had been damaged, too.

Jann Byrd, who is principal at Chief Umtuch Middle School in Battle Ground, said she thinks that kids might be behind the vandalism and theft.

"I really like working with kids, because that's the job I'm in," she said. But "there are some kids that have nothing better to do than to be vandals."

She said she reported the theft to Vancouver police, but the agency's spokeswoman Kim Kapp said there is little officers can do aside from taking a report of the incident.

Since the theft, Byrd has replaced the light and raised another American flag that her son had given her. She hopes, however, that the thief returns the special flag back to her, she said.

"It's not the end of the world, but it's important to us," she said.