Senator Kelly, Valley Legislators Introduce Measure to Protect Flags at Veterans’ Graves

February 4, 2013

Hartford – State Senator Kevin C. Kelly (R-21) and Representatives Jason Perillo (R-113) and Themis Klarides (R-114) have introduced legislation this year which protects the placement of flags at the gravesites of war veterans around Memorial Day. Current law prohibits any town, cemetery association or ecclesiastical society from enacting bylaws restricting the placement of the flag of the United States on veterans’ graves from the Saturday before Memorial Day until the Monday after the Fourth of July. The new bill would prohibit such restrictions starting from the Wednesday prior to Memorial Day.

“Connecticut veterans have sacrificed their time, safety and in some cases their lives on our behalf,” said Senator Kelly. “Last year, I was proud to support legislation increasing the penalties for those who vandalize or steal war and veterans’ memorials after a series of unfortunate incidents in the Naugatuck Valley. This year’s proposal takes another smart step to protect those who decorate veterans’ gravesites in honor of Memorial Day. It is my hope that this bill will provide enough time to properly prepare for this important day and help us remember those who were lost.”

“We took action in past sessions of the legislature to make sure that no cemetery could restrict the placement of American flags at veterans’ gravesites during the season when their sacrifices service are observed, ” said Rep. Perillo. “What we have learned is that the time frame allotted for flag placement is too narrow, and that VFW organizations and American Legion members need more time to ensure adequate placement of these flags in advance of the Memorial Day holiday. This bill will give them a wider window to accomplish that.”

“I’m pleased to introduce this bill in an effort to make it easier to honor and distinguish the legacy of war veterans who bravely served our country,” said Rep. Klarides. “Current time restrictions on the placement of American Flags at gravesites make it difficult for loved ones and fellow servicemen to display flags in time for Memorial Day, when the symbols are most meaningful.”

“In the past we have always been able to go into cemeteries five or six days ahead of Memorial Day to place these flags,” said Al Sabetta of the Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post 16 in Shelton. “We are all volunteers and most of us are up there in age, and it’s time consuming. What we were finding was that cemeteries were using the law to actually prevent us from getting in to place flags before the Saturday prior. That’s why we were looking to get the law changed so we can have enough time to get in there and do the job right.”

The bill, HB 5555, An Act Concerning the Placement of Flags on the Graves of Veterans Prior to Memorial Day, is currently before the legislature’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee. This session of the Connecticut General Assembly will adjourn on June 5, 2013.