There’s a hell of an ugly story going around involving the military and the remains of fallen troops. Apparently partial remains of several hundred of our men and women were disposed of in appalling ways — landfills and dumped into the sea. And most people who hear about this are outraged. I know I was thoroughly ripshit, and I heard a retired Army Colonel (David Hunt — he was filling in for Boston talk show host Howie Carr, and he’s a frequent Fox News contributor) talking about how every general of three stars and above should resign.
Then I heard some more details, and while I’m still angry as hell, I’m not quite as bloodthirsty as I was. These weren’t bodies, these were partial remains. Further, the families of these fallen troops had already been presented with remains, and signed papers saying they did not want to receive any more remains, and the military could dispose of them as they saw fit without informing the families.
Maybe I watch too much “Bones,” but I immediately saw a scenario in my mind.
“Sir, we’ve identified another mystery bone. It’s a finger bone from Corporal X.”
“OK, what’s his status?”
“We turned over remains accounting for 95% of his body to his family a year ago for burial. That gave them their closure. They signed off on the paperwork, saying they didn’t want a steady trickle of more body parts over the next few years, and I can’t blame them.”
“Me, neither. Put the bone in the box of unclaimed body parts for disposal.”
Now, what should have been done was a quiet, dignified disposal of the bones. Perhaps a corner of Arlington National Cemetery could be used — a deep, unmarked hole where the bones could be placed, then gradually filled in, or something like that. Whoever signed off on just tossing them in the trash needs to be drummed out of the service. And if it was a civilian, then fired and banned from future military service.
But it wasn’t quite the outrage I first heard about.
Corrections: The remains in question were incinerated before disposal, and I meant “barred from further government employ.” Sorry, folks.