Members of the US Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment 'The Old Guard' carry the casket of US Army Captain Andrew Pederson-Keel during a burial service for Pederson-Keel in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, March 27, 2013. Pederson-Keel, 28, was killed March 11 during an attack on a police station in Afghanistan. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan thinks the U.S. should put an end to military funeral honors. Both the federal government and Missouri's state government are are broke, he explains in a column published Wednesday. Not to mention, "most veterans did nothing heroic" anyway.
Sure, some would argue that joining the military and forgoing a normal, comfortable American lifestyle for any period of time -- all while understanding you may come home in a body bag -- is pretty heroic. But let McClennan explain [emphasis added]:
Both the federal government and the state government are broke. So why are we providing military funeral honors for all veterans? It is a nice gesture we can’t afford.
Certainly, men and women killed in combat deserve full military honors. It’s a way for the country to say, “We honor the memory of those who died in our service.” These military honors — and the thought behind them — are intended to provide some solace for the families of the fallen.
But what about the guy who spends a couple of years in the military and then gets on with his life? Bear in mind that most veterans did nothing heroic. They served, and that’s laudable, but it hardly seems necessary to provide them all with military honors after they have died. In fact, it seems generous enough to provide veterans and their spouses with free space and headstones at a national cemetery.
Why not let the veterans organizations provide military honors at the funerals of their members? If a person gets out of the Marine Corps and wants to stay connected, he can join the Marine Corps League. I’m sure the 101st Airborne has an association. In a more general vein, we have the American Legion and the VFW.
McClellan also lamented the fact that "virtually all veterans who revived an honorable discharge are eligible" for military funeral honors.
Referring to the Missouri Military Funeral Honors Program, the columnist explained that more than 114,000 veterans have received military funeral honors since 1999. Plus, he notes the program has been averaging 729 funerals a month.
But McClellan is really only concerned with cutting government spending.
"Everybody knows government needs to cut costs," he writes. "This is exactly how you do it. You identify things you don’t need, and you cut them. Maybe they’re nice things, but if you don’t need them, you cut them. Admittedly, this program is a small item, but as you go through the massive budget, you look for lots of small items."
He then argues that stopping military funeral honors would not be "a slap in the fee to veterans." For military members who want to be honored for their service, they can join a "veterans organization."
"We owe a lot to our veterans," McClellan concludes. "They might not have been heroes, but they served."
(H/T: Weasel Zippers)
Featured image via AP