First it was CBS’s declaration that Vietnam, not Korea, is now the new forgotten war.
The Amazing Race cluelessly paraded their contestants on national television in front of the fuselage ridden crash site of an American B-52 bomber shot down in Hanoi during the war. The network apology read something like this, “Whoops – our bad – our production crews are all under thirty and tragically hip! They just forgot that American veterans who served in Vietnam may still be alive. I mean it was so long ago.” Ok, that wasn’t it exactly, but you probably get the picture.
Now, the newest diss against our uniformed men and women comes from a St. Louis liberal columnist (Bill McClellan) who is proposing a new and innovative way to help President Obama rid the country of our $16-trillion debt – get rid of the Honor Guard at military funerals. Oh, wait, the writer does have one standard exemption to the rule – if you happen to be killed in combat, then you’re worthy enough for an honorable nod from the government. The rest of the military? Ahh, not so much. Veterans wounded in combat? Fuhgett about it – heal up and use your GI Bill – that’ll set the record straight.
The Sliding Scale of Sacrifice
In fact, his distaste for the military structure is so obvious, he blatantly divides our veterans into heroes and non-heroes. You know pencil pushers and cooks vs the ‘real men’ who go into battle. Ironically, Mr. McClellan himself admits he was drafted during the above mentioned war, but obviously didn’t get the memo about an ‘Army of One.’ He seems to forget that when one signs on the dotted line to serve their country – whether it’s for four years or thirty years – engineer or airborne – that military member accepts their fate with the roll of the dice – and willingly at best. Maybe they get sent to Naval Station Coronado in California, maybe to Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, or maybe somewhere even more innocuous like for instance, hmmm, Fort Hood, Texas – Get my drift?
But McClellan’s most balls-y argument against funding for military honor funerals is the request that veterans rise up for their last chance at “real” heroism and take one for the team. Team America, that is. Hey soldier, forget cost-cutting measures like Medicaid fraud, Obama phones, Congressional Jetsetting and Yoga on the White House lawn – we can save a whopping $400 by giving you a Sam’s Club style funeral instead of wasting false honors on someone who probably didn’t deserve it anyway.
In all fairness he does suggest that a VFW or other veteran’s groups could take up the slack, but again that’s no guarantee to the hundreds of thousands of OEF-OIF veterans who are returning home and most likely will not be needing funeral arrangements for another 40 years.
Missing the Point
If McClellan’s plan came to fruition, please tell me who will decide if a veteran is worthy enough for military honors? Some bureaucratic government agency? Are you telling me that Navy Seal and American Sniper Chris Kyle, gunned down by a fellow soldier with PTSD he was trying to help, wouldn’t deserve military honors at his funeral? A man who was considered such a hero, his memorial warranted being held at Dallas Cowboys stadium near his hometown? Good Luck with that.
Here’s a quote from another columnist with a bit softer view on the matter. One, who like most commentators on the subject, missed the point entirely.
Do veterans NEED full honors at their funeral? Probably not.
Of course the veterans don’t NEED anything, they’re dead. Funerals are for the living, for those left behind.
Have you ever been to a military funeral? It is a gut-wrenching experience, especially to see a family lose a loved one so tragically. But it is because of the military family that we MUST honor the service member who has died. We honor not only their loss, but the sacrifices they too have given to the country. The presence of fellow veterans, the ceremonial taps, the gun salute, flag presentation; these rituals are all part of the mourning process to help a military family heal, especially children. And God Bless the thousands of Patriot Guard Riders who have supported and protected brokenhearted military families being assaulted in their darkest hour by hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church.
The most important reason to continue military funeral honors is to remember. To remind and teach the next generation the importance to duty and respect. To remember how many brave souls, past, present, and future have sacrificed their lives to create the great democracy we are today. We also have to remind ourselves, that to stay great, some must continue to give to their country selflessly. Whether it is a Revolutionary War minuteman, your grandfather who served in WWII, your uncle in Vietnam or eventually your sister who served in Iraq, military funeral honors are there to remind us that Freedom is not Free, and it never will be.