We all know how painful it is when a friend or loved one is deployed to defend our country. Seeing someone you care about willingly go to risk their lives to ensure that you remain safe is never easy. What is even harder is when that loved one doesn’t come back. Only able to ease the pain slightly, the “no man left behind” policy of our nation’s armed forces has allowed thousands of departed soldiers to be properly honored for their ultimate sacrifice.
However, it has recently been discovered that not every fallen soldier receives the respect owed to them for laying down their life for their country. In what has come to be known, in my opinion, as the most disgusting, disrespectful and appalling thing to be done in recent memory, the Air Force has admitted to dumping the incinerated partial remains of no less than 274 American troops in a Virginia landfill, a number far less than the military previously acknowledged before halting the secretive process nearly three years ago.
What makes this practice so infuriating to me is not the location of these solders’ final resting place but the fact that the landfill dumping was concealed from families who had authorized the military to dispose of the remains in a dignified and respectful manner. In addition to that, there are currently no plans to alert those families, even now, about what happened to their loved ones.
This disgusting and dishonorable practice was uncovered by The Washington Post last month, which was able to document a single case of a soldier whose partial remains were sent to the King George County landfill in Virginia. The new data uncovered shows the actual scope of this crime for the first time, which has become an extremely embarrassing episode for the Dover Air Base, the main port of entry for our fallen heroes.
What’s more is that this practice was never formally authorized under military policies or regulations and was also not disclosed to senior Pentagon officials who conducted a high-level review of cremation policies at the Dover mortuary back in 2008.
Officials from both the Pentagon and the Air Force stated last month that the only way to determine how many remains went to the landfill would require searching through the records of over 6,300 fallen troops whose remains have passed through the mortuary since 2001.
Right now it is believed that 976 fragments from 274 military personnel were cremated, incinerated and taken to the landfill between 2004 and 2008. According to the Air Force, an additional 1,762 unidentified remains were collected from the battlefield and disposed of in a similar manner. This makes the total number of incinerated fragments dumped in the landfill in excess of 2,700.
To say that this infuriates me is an understatement. These extremely brave men and women gave their lives so that we could stay safe at night. They died protecting a country they believed in and loved and this is how we treat them? This is how we show them respect? By dumping their ashes with a bunch of garbage? Absolutely not! This cannot stand and immediate action against the Dover Air Force Base and all those knowingly involved is required.
This is not only a disgrace and a dishonor to these fallen heroes but also to their friends, family, loved ones and all of us in this country that can sleep a little safer as a result of these terrible sacrifices. My condolences go out to the families of these soldiers and I pray that their spirits can find peace.
Source: Yahoo! – Far more troops’ ashes in landfill than acknowledged