I saw an op-ed piece in the St Louis Post Dispatch where a columnist was disparaging Military Honors for most Veterans. Columnist Bill McClennan, in his column, says that most Veterans just did their jobs and did nothing heroic. That Veterans Organizations should provide these services and not the Government. That Veterans Organizations do these funerals and if a Veteran wants a military funeral he should join one. His reasons, besides the insult that these Veterans did nothing special, are that government is broke and can’t afford doing these funerals for every soldier who served honorably. He is adamant that most Veterans did nothing ‘heroic’ and are therefore not deserving of these honors. He says that Veterans Organizations should do these funerals and if a Veteran wants a military funeral he should join one.
Having served on the VFW funeral detail for a few years till my service connected disability would not let me, I certainly can attest to the rightness of doing these funerals. Actually the cost is negligible and a pittance when stacked aside what the Veteran and his family might have sacrificed during the Veterans service. Indeed, we honor not only the Veterans sacrifice but that of his or her family. We recognize and honor the family’s loss and I cannot begin to measure the gratitude expressed over and over by them. However not every post has a funeral detail and not all Veterans join these organizations. Still we do funerals for Veterans who are not members on a regular basis.
While I would argue that signing a contract that allows your boss to do with your life as he wishes is in itself a sacrifice most citizens would not make, it is still a huge sacrifice. It is true that a large portion of our soldiers will not see combat. We do not honor only those who have seen combat or who were hurt in combat operations, although these Veterans are held in highest esteem, we honor all, all who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. The Christian religion says the highest form of sacrifice is to lay down your life for another. The honor and deference we give to our Veterans is to thank them for their willingness to make that sacrifice.
Should we as a society decide that this modest tribute to our Veterans cost too much? Who needs this pittance so much more that we should dishonor our Country, our Veterans and ourselves to give them this money? I agree that we should get our financial house in order, but if in order to do that we have to sell our soul and honor, then the country would already have lost whatever we had that was worth sacrificing for!