Family of veterans stands strong after arsonist torches American flag

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 3:39 AM EDT
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW) - An arsonist’s brazen act to a Philadelphia family’s beloved American flag has the homeowners in shock as authorities search for the suspect.

Robert Stewart, whose family is full of veterans, has been proudly flying his American flag outside his home in Philadelphia for more than 25 years. Never did he expect to see it set ablaze.

“I come running down, and when I got halfway down the steps, I could see the flames in the window. The bay window was just engulfed in flames,” Stewart said.

Home surveillance video captured the suspect setting the flag on fire, not once but twice, about 2:45 a.m. Saturday.

“[He] stops, lights the flag. He starts walking. It must not have been burning fast enough for him, so he came back and lit it some more. Then, he walked away,” Stewart said.

The front of Stewart’s home also caught fire, causing significant damage to both his house and his son’s home next door. The family is left to clean up and rebuild part of the front of the home they’ve lived in for more than 40 years.

“I don’t know why you would do that. You don’t like it, that’s fine… But there are people in their houses. I have two small children. My grandmother’s 90. My in-laws are in their 60s. God forbid if something happened,” said Carrie Fisher, Stewart’s daughter-in-law.

Stewart now has a brand new flag on display that he’s secured to plywood covering charred siding. He says he’s undeterred by the arsonist who targeted an American symbol that means so much to the family of veterans.

“All my wife’s brothers were militaries, so it’s important to her. Twenty-five, thirty years, we’ve been flying flags. We have one out back, too. As soon as they got done boarding it up to secure the house, I had another one in there, so I just put it up figuring they’re not going to deter me from flying the flag,” Stewart said.

Investigators say they have leads regarding the suspect from people who say they recognize the man in the video.

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