Friday, February 16, 2007

Absolutely Disgraceful and Totally Unacceptable!

I borrowed the following article from another blog but I thought it worthy of a repeat in here.

"Ive just been told a heartbreaking story. And it’s one of those stories that usually end in total helplessness, but since I’m fortunate enough to have a forum like this weekly column at, I hope you’ll engage me for a minute or two and allow me to share this awful tale with you.

This morning, I heard from an old friend of mine, someone I knew many years ago when I was a young man in Ohio. I could hear the pain and anger in his voice, even after not talking with him in a number of years.

One of his closest friends, a young man named Nicholas, was killed in Iraq last month. This hero soldier had recently married his sweetheart and was home on leave when he and his wife welcomed their new baby into the world. A few weeks later, Nicholas lost his life in Iraq while fighting for his country.

As many soldiers before him had done, Nicholas had requested that if he wound up paying the ultimate sacrifice, he wanted to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington, of course, is sacred ground, the ultimate resting place for thousands of our nation’s bravest and finest Americans.

My friend drove from Ohio to D.C. to say good-bye to his friend. The ceremony was simple and poignant, the tears flowed freely. As the family left the cemetery, he lingered a bit at the grave with some other friends. They just couldn’t comprehend that their buddy was gone. Still can’t, in fact.

What they witnessed next was something that will haunt them forever.

With the family gone and the area cleared out, my friends watched as four civilian workers began to handle the casket. The honor guard was gone, the military escort had left. Just four workers and a beloved soldier, husband, father, and friend in a casket.

The men struggled to lift the casket and put it into the vault, which was up on some kind of a forklift. Evidently, the walls of the grave that had been dug were collapsing and they weren’t able to lower the casket into the ground. They watched as the men basically dumped the casket, like a load of garbage, into the vault. It crashed into the container, and the forklift spun it around like a top. My friend said there could be no doubt that Nicholas’ body would have been thrown around in the casket. In fact, he believes that the casket would have been damaged considering the way the men tossed it around in the container.

These witnesses cried out in anger and anguish. They went to Arlington’s administration office and encountered a sympathetic officer. “What would you like us to do?” he asked my friends. “We want the body exhumed so that Nicholas can be straightened out in the casket, the men who did this to him should be reprimanded, and there should be some kind of protocol change so that someone can oversee these soldier’s burials so that this can’t happen again to anyone else”, they said.

The officer was patient and kind and sympathetic, my buddy told me. But he indicated that none of that is likely to happen. He told him that there are, on average, 22 funerals a day at Arlington. This was probably an isolated case, he said. It would be too expensive to exhume the body. And there would be no plans to change their protocols.

Not long ago, there was a huge controversy that arose when an airline passenger saw a military casket loaded onto a baggage cart. She wrote a column that expressed her belief that the casket was loaded onto a cart with other luggage, an assertion the airline disputed. But at no point did the woman claim that the casket was tossed around or the body disturbed.

In this case, my friend insists that several civilian workers threw around their close friend like a rag doll. Their hearts were torn out over what they saw. They asked for, and expect, some kind of response. This isn’t the kind of person who will run to a lawyer threatening a lawsuit. He just wants to make sure his friend’s body is treated respectfully and that nothing like this can happen to anyone again.

On the phone, my friend began to cry. He called me, after all these years, because he didn’t know who else to turn to.

I don’t exactly know who to turn to, either. I certainly know some Congressmen and Senators who might be able to help. Maybe someone who reads this column can make some suggestions.

But I promised my friend that I would tell you his story.

At least that’s a start."

It's so sad and something has to be done about such behaviour. It is not unlike the story of our own Private Jake Kovco who died accidentally while serving in Iraq and when it came time to return his body to Australia, whoever was responsible sent the wrong body home. That was a shocking error and one that should not have occurred. What happened in the above article is another example of total disrespect for our people in the Armed Forces.

On a much, much lighter note, I have friends coming to lunch today. All is prepared, with nothing further to do than open the wine upon their arrival and lay out the food. Oh! Of course...the eating of said food and drinking of said wine! But then that should go without saying. The day is pleasantly cooler than what is normal expected at this time of the year here in South East Queensland, so that's a 'plus'. Actually, I was up very early this morning and it was quite cool in the wee hours. I'm not complaining, however. I can take as much of this as Hughie wants to give. I think more rain will fall throughout the day.

I've prepared a salmon mousse (that's not plural for "mouse") with other accompaniments as a starter. To be followed by a chicken, toasted pine-nuts, walnuts, crisp pancetta, grilled haloumi cheese, cherry tomatoes, red onion and mesclun salad, marinated bbq pork spare ribs, and two different varieties of small kind is chicken, marinated asparagus and artichoke....and sopressa, grilled capsicum/peppers, semi-sundried tomatoes and marinated champignon is the other variety. I made a Panna Cotta with blueberry coulis as dessert.

Again, I've got far too much food for three people, but if all is not's left-overs for me tomorrow. I was asked to dinner with neighbours and friends this evening but I declined. One thing is certain after today's lunch, I definitely won't feel like eating again this evening. (I think I must have a phantom diner at the other chair to help in the eating of all this food! I know he's there!)


  1. Now that feast sounds like it was for a group of 8. I hope you had a wonderful lunch. Have a great weekend.

  2. Wow, what a sad story. They should not be treated like that. I don't understand what is wrong with some people!

  3. Not a very nice story about the funeral botch up Lee.

    Oh! Of course...the eating of said food and drinking of said wine! But then that should go without saying. Perhaps that should be saiding? I'm just sayin'.

  4. Hi Lee,That is terrible about the poor soldiers funeral. Unbelievable really.
    Hope you had a great time with your visitors. Thanks for your visit and concern.
    Cheers Margaret

  5. The whole war is a fiasco.

    But the mousse sounds good.

  6. GF'day, guests have just left...and we had a great afternoon. Fia, the distaff side of my friends and I got the giggles at one stage that lasted for quite a while...but if you were to ask me what over, I have not a clue and I doubt she would have a clue, either! It was just one of those moments. Paul, her husband, looked on thinking we were both having a fit! lol

    And yes, you are right...I had enough food to feed more than just the three of us...but I don't have to cook again for myself for a couple of days or more! ;) Nothing changes!

    Good to see you,'s work going? Yes...that is such a sad story...and so wrong. That's what is missing in this world today...respect.

    Hey, Lee...the mice were good! ;) I was very happy with how it turned out...light, but very tasty...a good finale to a wonderful meal. A great afternoon shared with two friends I hold dear...they are as mad as I am! ;)

  7. Shelly...and very sad. People never learn the art of being good matter how hard we try to teach them otherwise. But it boils down to the fact that 'they' have so little respect for how can we expect anything other from them? was/is a good is now going on to 6pm...and I'm still sipping on a red! ;) Wine is good for one...or two...or the multitudes!

  8. I see from your later post that you did do too much food! But it sounds like you prepared an absolute feast. I love salmon meece.

    Regards the soldier burial, I think it is a shame that the boys saw their friend's body being handled in this way, But I am sort of of the belief that it's just an empty body and it doesn't matter too much. Far worse is the fact that he was killed in the aftermath of an illegal war. That's the real tragedy.

  9. I think it's mainly about respect, my way of thought, anyway.