Bronze star markers replaced

Snap Fitness donates $5,420 to purchase more than 200 bronze star markers stolen from Isanti County veterans’ graves

Click on an image to view the slideshow (photos by Elizabeth Sias):

Local veterans’ graves once again have the recognition they so distinctly deserve.

Snap Fitness Founder/CEO Peter Taunton has donated $5,420 to replace more than 200 bronze star markers recently stolen from local cemeteries, Isanti County Veterans Service Officer Jim Rostberg reported this week. The markers have arrived, and on Tuesday, June 5, they were placed on the veterans’ graves by local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Over the last month, bronze star markers were stolen from Isanti Union, St. John’s Weber and Spring Lake Lutheran cemeteries. Rostberg explained the bronze star markers are placed on the graves of veterans by volunteer flag placers.

“I started hearing about the missing bronze star markers by our volunteer flag placers as well as widows,” Rostberg said. “I’ve been here since 1980 and I’ve never seen markers disappear like that. It’s disgusting, frustrating and we are angry. This past month has been very upsetting and distressing.”

Rostberg said he got a call late last week from Taunton who heard about the bronze star markers being stolen, and wanted to help. Taunton paid to replace the stolen markers.

“We are very appreciative of Mr. Taunton,” Rostberg said.

Taunton, based at Snap Fitness headquarters in Chanhassen, said any business would have stepped up to help.

“Losing a loved one is tragic enough, but to have someone come and vandalize the grave of a loved one is tough,” Taunton said. “These veterans have given their lives to the military, and I couldn’t believe someone could be so disrespectful. This is wrong on so many different levels.”

Rostberg explained most veterans have a private headstone and the bronze star marking is a way to honor their service. He said every veteran buried in Isanti County receives a bronze star marker that costs $26 a piece.

“Our military veterans deserve to be recognized for their dedication and commitment for serving in one of the military branches of the United States,” Rostberg said. “Oftentimes their only recognition is with a bronze star marker marking their gravesite.”

Taunton said even though he is not a veteran, he appreciates their service to our country.

“I have family members who have served, and I respect everything they do,” Taunton said. “I feel blessed our company is in a position to help. I feel many businesses would have stepped up to help; we just happened to call first. Part of running a successful business is to pay it forward when you are called upon to do so. We are very happy we are in a position to do that.”

Rostberg said the Isanti County Sheriff’s Department is doing a good job looking into the matter. On May 9, at 2:11 p.m., a visitor at Isanti Union Cemetery reported two men pulling out the bronze star markers. When the men realized they had been spotted, they fled the scene in a truck.

Chief Deputy Bill Guenther said the matter is under investigation.

“We are taking this matter very seriously and it is under active investigation at this time,” said Chief Deputy Guenther.  “We are working with another agency who had information for us in reference to the thefts of the bronze stars.”

Anyone with information regarding the loss of the Bronze Star Markers in Isanti County should call the Isanti County Sheriff’s Tip Line at 763-691-2426.

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