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Memorial Day graveyard guardians to protect Decatur Avenue of Flags

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One cemetery is taking action after a scare during Memorial Day weekend last year.

This year, guards will be posted at Graceland Cemetery to protect flags honoring veterans.

Every Memorial Day weekend, Graceland Cemetery honors fallen veterans with its Avenue of Flags display.

Two people will now be standing guard throughout the weekend after someone tried to steal one of those flags last year.

Joseph Farrar was arrested after two Illinois Patriot Guards, Michael Tarczan and Bruce Logan, say they caught him in the act of taking a flag from the display.

Tarczan recalled the encounter that night, “And I see a silhouette. It's really foggy that night and I can’t tell if it’s a headstone. Can’t tell if it’s a flower arrangement. But then he moves, and then the chase is on. And I actually chased him out of his shoes. Chased him a city block. Ordered him to stop. Took him into custody. ”

That chase last year led to Farrar's arrest.

But it also led Graceland Cemetery to rethink its security around Memorial Day.

The Illinois Patriot Guards will be making their presence known to potential thieves so the families of veterans can rest easy.

“Memorial Day is not about barbecues," Tarczan said, "It’s not about going out on a boat. It’s not about hanging out, drinking with your friends. It’s about the men and women that have served this country and died in combat.”

These flags are worth upwards of $1,000.

The guards find it unfortunate they have to go to such drastic measures, but they want to make sure the veterans are properly honored.

Farrar, the flag thief, was placed in the Macon County Jail for six months and was ordered to pay $1,200 in restitution.

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The flags will begin flying Friday morning and will be taken down late Monday.

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