Those who make the ultimate sacrifice for their country need to be treated with respect. Apparently that is no longer sacred in the country. Ronald G. Cichinelli is a 29-year-old resident of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He was recently caught stealing cemetery grave markers made of bronze belonging to veterans. On two separate occasions, he attempted to sell these to a scrap yard.
According to the New York State police in Waterloo, they were tipped off by one of the scrap yards in order to let them know about the man’s conspicuous behavior. The story does not identify whether any of the scrap yards actually purchased any of the bronze markers.
Cichinelli stole the markers from a local cemetery and headed across state lines to try to sell them. He will be tried in Seneca County New York for felony charges – a fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
Cichinelli was looking to make quick money. Bronze is one of the metals that many scrap yards will accept – and they will pay cash in order to get it. With veterans being given brass cemetery grave markers, Cichinelli thought that this would be a great way to make money – and had no care about the fact that these markers were designed to pay respects to veterans. It is unclear as to how many of these bronze markers he took from the cemetery. However, it must have been a significant amount in order to alert the scrap yard as well as involve felony charges.
The markers were stolen from a cemetery in Pennsylvania. Troopers from New York contacted the Pennsylvania State Police as well as the Department of Veteran Affairs office in Cambria County, Pennsylvania.
Cichinelli has been held at the Seneca County jail on a $40,000 bond. Luckily, the gravestone markers have been recovered. For now, they will be kept to serve as evidence within Cichinelli’s trial. Authorities anticipate that he will face additional charges once he gets back to the state of Pennsylvania.
Hopefully, the original bronze markers will go back onto the tombstones once the trial is over. Otherwise, the VA will likely work to replace all of the markers to ensure that the correct honors are bestowed upon all of the veterans. Family members should not have to worry about their loved ones’ graves being disrupted in any capacity, regardless of whether it’s just the tombstone or not. The police did not identify if they notified the families of what happened or if any family members reported that there were bronze markers missing.
The hope is that everything can be restored so that the families don’t have to suffer in regards to their loss any further than what they have already gone through. Cichinelli clearly did not think about how this would impact families. He was so quick to steal what was not his in order to make fast cash that he not only took advantage of deceased veterans but also tarnished the memories.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs has been providing brass medallions since November 1, 1990. Families of deceased veterans can request the medallion. From there, the medallion can be affixed to the gravestone belonging to the service member. Prior to 1990, the Department of Veterans Affairs furnished traditional government headstones, made of either granite or marble.
Anyone who has served in the military is able to get a brass medallion. It’s the US Department of Veteran Affairs’ way of saying, “thank you for your service” one last time. Thousands of families request the medallions every year. While it can be affixed to the tombstone, it can also be kept as a remembrance or attached to an urn. It all depends on how the family wants to use the medallion.
More is done for military members who die in the line of duty. This means that they will get more than just the brass medallion – and no one should try to take that away from them. For Cichinelli to deface tombstones of veterans clearly shows that he has no respect for what military members go through each and every day in order to keep the country safe.
Cichinelli should be tried with felony charges in New York as well as Pennsylvania. Luckily, the scrap metal places stayed honest and reported him rather than melting down the bronze and saying nothing. It shows that there are at least some people who respect the military and what veterans have had to sacrifice for the United States of America.