Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Remains of the Day... could belong to Your Son or Daughter

            Societies reveal their most cherished values by showing respect for them.


            That's why we whisper in church and bow and kneel before our God.


            That's why we remove our hats in Court.


            Respect for that which we hold dear.


            And that's also why we pause to honor our war dead.  They are perhaps the one group of heroes that most universally joins us together as Americans.


            In rural towns and crowded cities, our military's fallen inspire thousands of Americans to stand solemnly curbside, hands over their hearts or hands in salute.


            The very deepest of respect for those who paid the ultimate price on our behalf.


            That's what's so disturbing about the news reported from the Dover Air Force Base Mortuary a few days ago.


            It seems that is has been a regular practice to have the unattached body parts of our slain soldiers cremated.


            And then dumped in a landfill!


            Family of our most gallant had been assured that the ashes had been given deserved respect.


            The government lied about that.


            The Washington Post reported that families of Americans who lost their lives on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan were never told the truth.   


            Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz recently told congress that they now bury the remains at sea with a proper ceremony.  Problem fixed, he claims.


            Nevertheless, the story was stunning and disturbing.


            The body parts that can't be identified must be treated with respect.


            We treasure these young men and women.  If the ravages of violent battle separate them from any part of their body, we should honor these heroes by honoring those sometimes shredded and difficult to manage remains.


            Every drop of their blood is a tribute to their courage.


            No greater love has any man than to give his life for a friend.


            I am relieved the situation has been rectified.


            But I wonder how Mrs. Jones feels as she bows in prayer at Arlington Cemetery, knowing that the severed limb of her young son is scattered among the rats and decayed garbage at Waste Management's landfill center.


            General Sherman told us that war is hell.


            Must we perpetuate hell for families by disrespecting their noble children?


            Never again, you say General Schwartz?


            We hope and pray that you are right.


            If not, we stand for nothing as a people.


            Americans, let's keep this promise.


                Our war dead deserve nothing less.




            DAVID M. LYNCH

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