Marsha Alexander woke up one morning and couldn’t believe it: A U.S. flag and a bear, both from her father’s funeral, were gone from her Carthage apartment.


“That was the last thing that we had, and I was just like ‘It’s just gone,’” Alexander said.

The flag was given to Alexander’s family in honor of her father Harlan “BB” Alexander Sr.’s military service. He spent four years in Germany as a radar man in the U.S. Army. She had kept both the bear and flag in her mother’s restored rocking chair.

But thanks to the American Legion Post 151 in Carthage, Alexander and her family received a new U.S. flag on Friday to replace what was lost. Commander Ronnie Odom and Sgt. Jessie Matlock hand delivered the flag and formally presented it to Alexander in honor of her father’s military service.

The American Legion learned about the theft through Odom’s wife and worked to replace the flag.

“It was the last thing that we had of our father’s besides pictures,” Alexander said.

She couldn’t hold back a few tears after the short ceremony on Friday. Alexander’s father Harlan was well-known in Carthage, especially at the American Legion.

She still doesn’t know why someone stole the flag and bear. Odom doesn’t either.

“Only thing you can do with a flag is you can salute or look at it,” he said. “That’s the only thing we can do.”


Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.