Charity organizer furious over American flag theft from pet cemetery

Charity organizer furious over American flag theft from pet cemetery

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - There is fury over the theft of the American flag, from the man who makes it his patriotic passion project to put them up.

Charley Foley, a 17-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department, says thieves have been allegedly stealing Old Glory from around the Old Pueblo.

He takes pride in the procedure of placing them around town and seeing the red, white, and blue flying in the wind.

"I'm going to be done with this department in three years. I've given to this city, a lot, in almost 20 years. I wanted to find something that would continue to give back after I wasn't a cop," Foley told Tucson News Now.

Through his charitable organization, Flags For The Flagless, Foley has filled his car and driven around southern Arizona, since the organization's inception in 2015, with everything a flag pole will need.

"I wanted to make it so there's really no reason you can't say no. That's what I've done. I got the truck, I've got the rope, I've got everything you need, and just go forward," he said, talking about how he helps southern Arizona residents raise the American flag at their home.

Since Flag Day of 2015, Foley said he's gifted 100 American flags throughout Pima County, including 400 flags in classrooms between Arizona and New York.

He said that even in an instance where the flag has no rope attached, Tucson Electric Power will help his cause by taking a bucket truck out of service and help re-rope the flag pole.

It's why the call Foley got from the owner of The Pet Cemetery of Tucson, on East Glenn Street, left him livid.

"She called me up. The panic in her voice: 'Charley, the flag is missing. Someone stole the flag,'" he said.

Left in its place, stolen from a nearby burial site, were miniature flags tied to the rope.

The original flag was hung on Memorial Day, Foley said, on the flagpole above the burial site of WWII Army Veteran Willard Haskell, buried among his beloved pets.

Haskell's family had requested the flag be flown on what was once a flagless pole at The Pet Cemetery of Tucson. It was stolen some time around the holiday.

"They're cowards, in my mind," Foley said.

Foley said during his time as organizer of Flags For The Flagless, five flags have been stolen that he had personally placed.

He's finding that all he wants is these thieves to know that he won't be stopped.

"I want people to know that no matter how hard you want to take down the flag, or you want to destroy it, whatever your agenda is, I'll put another one up. I'll put two more up. You want to steal 10, I'll put up 11. This is what made our country: We don't stop fighting, we don't back down, we don't give up."

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