YORK, Maine – The Ramsdell-Rogers American Legion Post is already on a shoestring budget as it looks to get up from under a series of financial setbacks. So when the state of Maine flag was stolen from the Hartley Mason Park for the second time this summer, Commander Pete Doe said the post just couldn’t afford to replace it.
Doe said the Legion has always paid to replace the POW/MIA and Maine state flags that fly on a flagpole below the American flag near the Fishermen’s Memorial in the park. The memorial honors York fishermen who were lost at sea, and the three flags are included as part of the memorial.
Earlier this summer, both the POW/MIA and state flag were stolen, and the Legion as usual funded the cost of replacing them – about $40 a flag. But the Legion is struggling now to pay the bills and stay afloat, after it was forced to sell the post home on Hannaford Drive because members couldn’t cover the mortgage any longer.
The town purchased the building for a new police station and the Legion is staying there rent free until early November, but when news spread about the sale, those who had events scheduled for September and October in the banquet room canceled.
Meanwhile, Doe said, the post continues its so far unsuccessful search for a new home, which by charter must be in York.
So when it learned recently the Maine state flag it had just replaced was stolen, Doe said the decision was made not to fund the costs of yet another flag.
“That one will stay missing because we just can’t afford to do this anymore,” he said. “It’s just hard to believe people can be that disrespectful.”
In a recent letter to the editor, Doe said he was reminded of the time he returned from Vietnam and was told to wear civilian clothes before leaving the base because members of the military were not welcomed by everyone. This act of stealing the state flag feels similar to him, he said.