A Massachusetts man is starting the new year with a clean slate after he returned a sword he stole from a statue of a Revolutionary War general nearly 40 years ago.
On Monday, Cindy P. Gaylord, the chair of the Westfield Historical Commission, met with a veteran who said he stole the sword from the town's Gen. William Shepard statue in 1980, the Springfield Republican reported.
Gaylord said the man first contacted city hall about a month ago to inform them that he wanted to return "something that belonged to Westfield."
He then met with Gaylord in person to share that he wanted to give back the bronze, 100-year-old sculpted version of the sword and asked for anonymity in return.
"He had a great deal of shame and remorse," Gaylord told the outlet.
The anonymous man, whom Gaylord described as a "great big bear of a guy," explained that as a military veteran, he felt obligated to return the relic.
"He is a veteran and told me the fact that he did this to another soldier troubled him," she said. "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 explained that stole the sword from the statue with a group of friends after a night of drinking. At the time, he had been working at a local bar while in school at Westfield State University.
While the veteran wanted to return the sword earlier, he told Gaylord he and his friends were not sure how to give it back without facing repercussions.
"He obviously felt he needed to be reprimanded for what he had done all those years ago. I told him, 'You are man enough to do the right thing,'" Gaylord said.
The sword on the statue had already been replaced years ago with help from local sculptor Arthur Moses, and paid for by an anonymous donor.
According to the newspaper, the returned sword will likely be preserved at the Edwin Smith Historical Museum, where there is already a collection of Shepard's swords.
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