Old Glory flies again on 73rd Street

March 9, 2012 Denise Romano
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Carmen Joachimsthal, 94, usually takes the American flag hanging over the porch inside at her 73rd Street home every evening. The night of February 14 was rainy and she decided to let it weather the storm. Other neighbors noticed and followed suit. When she woke up the next morning, three of the flags were gone.

“I felt very bad,” Joachimsthal said, adding that her late husband was a distinguished World War II veteran. “I asked, ‘Why did you do that?’ If they asked me, I would have gone to the store and bought one for them.”

When Joachimsthal’s upstairs neighbor Katherine Khatari got wind of it, she knew something was fishy. “It was probably some kids out at that time, thinking it’s funny,” she said of the thefts. But, she added, the action infuriated her and she decided to do something about it.

Khatari ran into John Quaglione, State Senator Marty Golden’s deputy chief of staff, in front of his Fifth Avenue office later that morning. “I was ranting and raving,” she recalled. “There is too much blood in that flag and too many boys coming back disfigured and crippled to let this go.”

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Golden, who is a member of the State Senate Homeland Security, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee, promised to replace all of the stolen flags and did just that on March 8.

“It’s just plain wrong to be taking down these flags,” Golden said on an unusually warm afternoon. “Today our message to these vandals is: you can’t steal an American flag and get away with it.”

Khatari, who has several family members in the military, was grateful for the gift but still angry at the thieves. “It’s disrespectful to come on someone’s private property and take their flag,” she said. “People fought for this. My uncle was a Vietnam vet and never came home. They think they will get away with this — over my dead body!”

But Joachimsthal was more forgiving. “Whoever did this will come back to say sorry,” she said. “I have so much pride in this.”

Golden urged residents to report anything they know about the thefts and not to be afraid to keep flags outside of homes. “Fly them high and fly them proud,” he said.

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