BELDING, Mich.-- A family's American flag with the service banner that hung outside their home for their three sons who are serving overseas was stolen right before their eyes Sunday morning around 6 AM.
“It’s just disheartening because it’s so disrespectful. Not only to the country, but to us personally, because it’s our property and we have a right to have it out there,” said Hollie Geurkink.
A dark colored pick-up truck stopped on the side of Lincoln Lake Road where the Geurkink’s live. The person in the truck pulled over and stole the flag that is at the end of their driveway closer to the road.
The Geurkinks are angered, because that flag isn't just to show their patriotism, but it had sentimental meaning handed down by family members, and of course, to represent their sons' service to our country. Now they’re scratching their heads as to why anyone would steal it.
“I have three sons overseas in the military who are willing at any moment to sacrifice their life if it took that for our country, and that kind of sacrifice is worthy of me representing at home,” said Hollie Geurkink.
Hollie Geurkink raised Tyler,22-years-old, who's in the Army and serving in Afghanistan, Nick, 26-years-old, a Marine, in Iraq, and Daniel, 20-years-old, also a Marine, somewhere out on the Indian Ocean.
“I pray for my boys a lot. Now I am going to pray for that kid or that guy every time I pray for my boys, because he needs a heart change,” said Hollie.
That person took something that had far more sentimental value than money could buy.
“Well it wasn't just the flag it was the fact that we had the service banner. Mothers of service men banners were big during World War II, and they were flown for children who were deployed overseas. We had ours flying because all three of our boys are overseas at this point,” said Fred Geurkink.
The incident happened Sunday morning when Fred got up to get his coffee like he does every day at 6 AM.
“I heard the truck out there, so I went over filled up the carafe, and turned around to pour the coffee. I was just standing over there watching, and I could see him walking around his pickup truck,” said Fred.
Fred thought the car had broken down like so many others had on their busy street before. The flag is not visible from their kitchen window. Their long driveway hides it with bushes and trees. Fred thought that the truck had broken down, and was on his way to the end of the driveway to help the driver.
“I heard him throw the pole into the back of his pickup truck, and I finally realized what he was doing,” said Fred.
Fred got in his truck and tried to chase the culprit down the road.
“By the time I went up Lincoln Lake Road he was already gone,” said Fred.
Fred was disappointed that he only made out a dark colored truck, but no license plate or make or model. More than disappointed he was frustrated because the flag itself had memories sown into its very stitching.
“On top of that, my dad had given me the American flag that was out there. My dad is deceased and he never really got to see my sons grow up and be in the military, so it was significant that it was his flag he was flying as well,” said Hollie.
The Geurkinks wasted no time flying a new flag to honor their sons, and their country, but every time they look it's way, they'll wonder why it was taken from them in the first place.
The Geurkinks filed a reporter with the Ionia County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies showed up a half an hour after the incident to comb the back streets for any signs of the flag or a dark colored pick-up truck. The family is offering a money reward if someone tells them who stole it.