Dignity-They Deserve Nothing Less
In an about-face by the U.S. government four years into the war in Iraq, America's fallen troops are being brought back to their families aboard charter jets instead of ordinary commercial flights, and the caskets are being met by honor guards in white gloves instead of baggage handlers with forklifts.
That change - which took effect quietly in January and applies to members of the U.S. military killed in Afghanistan, too - came after a campaign waged by a father who was aghast to learn that his son's body was going to be unloaded like so much luggage.
In the past the military has always used commercial flights because it was the fastest way to get the body home to the family. John Holley whose son was killed in Iraq said "If it was `expeditious' to deliver them in garbage trucks, would you do that?" Mr Holley went to his congressman Duncan Hunter and complained.
Hunter wrote a letter to then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in December 2005, calling for more appropriate military honors. Speaking from the House floor in May, Hunter said: "The extreme respect that should be afforded those fallen heroes ... has in some cases, been lacking."
Persuaded by Hunter and others, Congress passed a law that requires the remains to be flown on a military or military-contracted aircraft. There must be an escort and an honor guard. Commercial airliners are used only if requested by families, or in cases where remains are sent outside the United States.
This may be old news to some, but I was glad to learn of this today. The families of our bravest deserve nothing less. I salute Duncan Hunter and the others that made this possible. The caskets are now handled with white gloves...not forklifts.
Powered by Zoundry
Labels: Duncan Hunter