PAUL— Living in the land of the free and the home of the brave has taken on new meaning at the Paul Post Office.
Every new American flag flown at the office in the past three years has disappeared, said Kayleen Mahoney, postmistress at the Paul Post Office.
“If I could catch them I’d sock it to them,” 89-year-old Donna Holder said, holding up and shaking her fist as she collected her mail from the office on Wednesday.
A Paul resident, Holder comes from a family filled with veterans, and the American flag holds a special place in her heart.
“Now I’m worried about somebody stealing my flag,” she said.
A tattered Old Glory hangs outside the office on the flagpole, a replacement to the new one that was stolen over Labor Day weekend.
“I’ll come to work and the flag is just not there,” Mahoney said, who thinks the thefts are occurring at night because nobody has seen anything suspicious.
“People are usually upset and they come in and ask where the flag is,” said Jennifer Latta, a postal clerk.
So far, only new flags have disappeared; when an old one is hung, it is left alone.
“I can’t believe that nobody has ever seen it happen,” Latta said.
At first, Mahoney said, she thought maybe someone had taken it down during a wind storm, but so far, none of the flags have been returned.
“We have a light that shines on it so we fly it at night. I’ve thought about taking it down each day,” she said.
Mahoney reported the theft to the Minidoka County Sheriff’s Office once, but the crime was not solved so when it was stolen again, she didn’t report it.
All told, the flag has been stolen at least four times.
“It’s pretty pitiful that they can’t buy their own flag,” said Larry Morris, a resident in the small town.
Mahoney said the U.S. Postal Service supplies the flag for the office and so far no one at the organization has questioned her on why the office is going through so many flags.
“I don’t know how to express what I think about this,” Holder said. “How little would you have to be to do something like that? What they’re doing to the flag and their country is a disgrace.”
Anyone who sees suspicious activity at the Paul Post Office should call the Minidoka County Sheriff’s Office at 208-434-2320.