WESTFIELD, Mass. -- A veteran returned a sword he stole from a statue of a Revolutionary War general 40 years ago, telling the head of the Massachusetts town's historical commission that he regretted taking it.
Cindy P. Gaylord, the chair of Westfield's Historical Commission, said a man contacted the city hall saying he had the sword stolen from the town's statue of Gen. William Shepard in 1980, the Springfield Republican reported on Sunday.
Gaylord agreed to give the man anonymity if he returned the bronze sword and arranged for him and his wife to drop it off at her home, she said.
“He had a great deal of shame and remorse,” Gaylord told the newspaper. “He is a veteran and told me the fact that he did this to another soldier troubled him. He wants the story printed to remind people that something you do in your youth could haunt you for the rest of your life.”
The man, who Gaylord described as a “great big bear of a guy,” told her he had worked at a bar in the town while he was enrolled as a student at Westfield State University. After a night of drinking, he and a group of friends went to steal the sword, which he said he wrenched loose with just his own strength. When they realized what they had done the next morning, they were not sure how to return the sword without facing consequences.
The stolen sword was replaced with the help of a local sculptor and paid for by an anonymous donor, the newspaper reported. The returned sword is likely to be preserved by a local museum, the newspaper reported.
Shepard was born in the area in the 1730s and fought as a militia man and solider in multiple wars, including the Revolutionary War. The town erected the bronze statue of him in 1919, the newspaper reported.