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Marine's Final Salute to fallen comrades
November 11, 2005 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Marine's Final Salute to fallen comrades Very emotional piece by the Rocky Mountain News where they shadow'ed a Marine that is responsible for notifying next-of-kin. Seeing as today is Veteran's Day, how 'bout we salute our men and women in uniform ... and leave the political discussions for other forums.
posted by RonZ (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
*holds tongue*
posted by delmoi at 7:52 AM on November 11, 2005


ok. I will do my part. May all you who serve be remembered for what you did.
posted by wheelieman at 7:55 AM on November 11, 2005


... or did not do.
posted by gsb at 8:03 AM on November 11, 2005


That too. Hey can we at least try to not make it a political thread like Ron requested?
posted by wheelieman at 8:05 AM on November 11, 2005


.
posted by lester at 8:07 AM on November 11, 2005


meh
posted by svenvog at 8:10 AM on November 11, 2005


That's gotta be some pretty tough duty.
posted by fenriq at 8:12 AM on November 11, 2005


Nothing veterans did or did not do exempts them from free speech, either here or anywhere else. I find those arguments abhorrent -- and note that they seem to be increasing in frequency with the recent revelations of behavior somewhat less than honourable and glorious in Iraq and elsewhere.
posted by docgonzo at 8:14 AM on November 11, 2005


Nothing veterans did or did not do exempts them from free speech, either here or anywhere else.

I having a bit of a hard time making it though the whole story, what with remembering the excruciating day I spent in July wondering if a uniformed soldier was going to show up at my parents door (or if I was going to get the phone call. I'm listed as the secondary notification guy) so could you please be more specific as to what the hell you're talking about?
posted by Cyrano at 8:21 AM on November 11, 2005


Kerry couldn't say it, but I'm not running for office:

It's really a damn disgrace that your kids died in vain, and the people responsible should be run up on treason charges.

Don't dicatate, RonZ, it's not patriotic.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:22 AM on November 11, 2005


Veterans:

As a civilian, I thank you for your service to our country.

I wish your boss had been less of a coward and done the same when it was his turn.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:38 AM on November 11, 2005


here's a nice page with some interesting Veterans Day facts. Also don't forget that this holiday originated as Armistice Day, the end of the war to end all wars.
posted by ducksauce at 8:40 AM on November 11, 2005


RonZ: Who do you know who -isn't- supportive of the human beings serving in our military? Not the actions, but the people. I certainly don't know anyone.
posted by odinsdream at 8:42 AM on November 11, 2005


Heartbreaking. The "never leave a marine behind" and the description of what Steve Beck has to do as he informs the families is just heartbreaking.

It's hard not to be political about this. Our soldiers deserve better than this.
posted by rks404 at 8:42 AM on November 11, 2005


:(((((((
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:47 AM on November 11, 2005


I find myself slightly conflicted about my military service (Gulf War 1) these years, and Veterans Day brings that out. On the one hand, I don't have any regrets for the choice to serve at that time in my life, and the experiences and lessons have been very important in shaping my maturity and perspective now. Understanding first-hand the reality, arbitrariness and personal powerlessness of war, global conflict and our place in society is a humbling common denominator in most veterans I know, and I acknowledge ("am proud" isn't quite right) being a part of the group that has that understanding.
But on the other hand, I don't wish this understanding on anyone else. I don't think first-hand exposure is necessary to be an insightful observer of human politics, to be a leader, or to be a good person or citizen. Sometimes it helps **cough current pres. cough** but I think most people do just fine with the blessing of not needing to be involved with the military. And that's the way the world should be. It's true in my experience, and in my crowd, the biggest pacifists are the ones who have seen the outcome of war. And we are happy that most people can avoid it.
As a veteran, I find I feel I have to defend my past against who and what I am today quite often lately. But they are not really incongruent. I served my country, I didn't serve an ideology. I was a leader (at least in effort), not an unthinking automaton. I never gave up my ability to think, to question, and to disagree; just for the time I was in I gave up the right to be overt about it. My experiences have given me a rich framework to build my current beliefs on, and in a lot of ways, they've forced me to really think about things much more in depth than a lot of people with simpler lives. That doesn't make me more right than them, but definitely more complex.
So on Veteran's Day I like being reminded I am a part of this brotherhood, because it reminds me of the tapestry of lessons that has gotten me to where I am today. Most days I tune out that lifetime-ago history, but today I acknowledge it. And I think that probably most veterans are probably being mostly thoughtful today, regardless of how their lives have turned out. So, thanks for the salute -- I take it as honoring the gravity of what I've seen, done and learned.
posted by dness2 at 8:48 AM on November 11, 2005 [1 favorite]


Well said.
posted by Cyrano at 8:55 AM on November 11, 2005


That was a great article, thanks. Notifying and supporting the family must be an incredibly difficult thing to do, and I'm sure it's a great help to the families. Grief can be like a physical weight, and these Marines help the families carry it.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:55 AM on November 11, 2005


It's all part of a tradition that started in 1775: Never leave a Marine behind.

Aww come on. The marines are no different than a frat, or joining the junior orioles. I learned that from davy.

Seriously, nice article. Thanks.
posted by justgary at 8:57 AM on November 11, 2005


Once more into the breach...
posted by Falconetti at 9:05 AM on November 11, 2005


Veterans:

As a civilian, I thank you for your service to our country.

I wish your boss had been less of a coward and done the same when it was his turn.



Amen.
posted by jonmc at 9:17 AM on November 11, 2005


I remember growing up a Navy brat at the begining of the Cold War. Our family had to leave Germany at the time the Berlin Wall went up out of fear of possible invasion or nuclear attack.
As the years went our family moved from Germany to Morocco, where my father was stationed on board the U.S.S. America at the time the U.S.S. Liberty was attacked. By Israel (alleged case of mistaken identity, most likely U.S. eavesdropping from the ship caught Israel's soldiers murdering Egyptian prisoners of war during the Six Day War) He lost more than a few friends in that incident.
Then we moved to Japan at the height of the Vietnam War. He was asked to volunteer for duty there but chose to remain behind, his duty communicating with his friends out in the bush trying to locate Viet Cong communications outposts. This required getting the equipment to do so very close to the target. Sometimes those carrying the equipment would be overrun. I never did find out how many times my father had to listen to friends on the other end of the line as they fought and died using crappy radio equipment to triangulate on an enemy, only to be ambused at the last moment.
He finally got out in the mid-1970's, just as I was preparing to go into the service. Thankfully I did a lot of research beforehand and determined that due to the military at the time being a dumping ground for society's outcasts it was not the place for me. For a 'slice of life' back then, rent the movie 'Buffalo Soldiers' with Joaquin Phoenix. I was reading yesterday that at this time, even with all the changes, 30% of this country's military might be made up of a 'criminal element' seeking military duty rather than a criminal sentence.
Here's to the troops. The ones who honor the flag and don't desecrate it with their actions.
Truth, Honor, Dignity.
posted by mk1gti at 9:22 AM on November 11, 2005


.

Death for anyone is so painful. I admit that I haven't put any thought into what I will do when, inevitably, those I love will die. I'd hate to have to be thinking of that so early in their life, to stand in fear of the appearance at my door of a soldier in uniform.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:25 AM on November 11, 2005


"I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the War is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this War, on which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purpose for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation. I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being
sacrificed. On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practised on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the contrivance of agonies which they do not, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize".


Suicide in the Trenches

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.


You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.


Siegfried Sassoon

posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:28 AM on November 11, 2005


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posted by kirkaracha at 10:50 AM on November 11, 2005


There's certainly something admirable in the way these Marines organize themselves , let me emphasize themselves for their own good as nobody else is going to help them.

You see that they're required by their unwritten laws to recover the bodies, which is the same as making sure the person is really dead and not MIA or , much worse, abandoned by some scared official.

Allow me some selective quotation

In the Marines, the same person who knocks on the door is the family's primary contact for the next year or more

Which makes sense if you consider that in time of controversy some people may consider ALL Marines to be as wrong as the war in which they fought..which is obviously a wrong generalization ; so by having another Marine become a pro-tempore help they provide for their families in some way.... that is always better then no help at all.

"People think that after the funeral, we're finished," Beck said. "It's not over. It's not over at all. We have to keep taking care of the families."


In May, the parents of an Army private first class were stunned when their son's casket was delivered to them on a forklift in a cargo area of a St. Louis airport where employees on break smoked nearby. They also thought it insensitive that, when informing them of their son's death, the casualty assistance officer literally read from a script.

They don't call Army the Hellhole without a motive, I was in the army of my country and it remains an hellhole.

So there are reasons to talk about Marines, to talk about how good they are and how bad they are ..generally speaking they're very interesting subject both of respect and admiration, but also of criticism, harsh but truthful.

how 'bout we salute our men and women in uniform ... and leave the political discussions for other forums

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive , Marines may not be part of Politics but politicians are the ones shipping them to meet death and mayhem ; is it keeping silence a way to honor them or to condemn them to further useless death ? I'd rather have them alive for times in which they're really needed, also hoping they never will be.
posted by elpapacito at 11:08 AM on November 11, 2005


Soldiers are the thugs carrying out murderous policy. Veterans deserve condemnation, not praise.
posted by Jatayu das at 11:26 AM on November 11, 2005


Here ya go, vets.
posted by telstar at 11:29 AM on November 11, 2005


I can only imagine that the pain and anguish of being the one to have to tell a family their loved one is dead is offset by the singular honor of being entrusted with such an important and sensitive duty and the privilege of getting to know the families.
Still, the less it has to be done the better. I don't see anything political about that.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:36 AM on November 11, 2005


"Soldiers are the thugs carrying out murderous policy. Veterans deserve condemnation, not praise.
posted by Jatayu das at 11:26 AM PST on November 11 [!]"

I got a great idea, Jatayu das, why don’t you head to all the Amer. Legion and DAV memorials today and give it to them straight. Please, share your insightful and important views with a greiving mother or widow. I’m sure everyone will praise you for being one of the very few intelligent enough to realize these important concepts.

Instead of y’know, posting it in a thread related to someone informing people their kids have been killed, where you’re anonymous.


Also - go fuck yourself, chicken shit troll.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:44 AM on November 11, 2005


I tried to explain the nature of Rememberance Day to my students today, to try to impart a sense of sporrow for the horrors of war. They just don't seem to understand here. It makes me sad.

I observed my minute of silence at 11:00 today.

I try to remember what my grandfather (merchant marine, WWII) said to me very shortly before he died, "War is madness. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. War is madness."

.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:45 AM on November 11, 2005


sorrow, damnit
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:45 AM on November 11, 2005


As somebody who theoretically could get that knock on the door one day, Jatayu Das, I suggest you not click on links or read threads on this topic. You are certainly entitled to your opinion but its expression on this page was totally reprehensible and classless.

This article was just as much about the families as it was the fallen. Are you the sort of person who would tell a grieving mother or widow that sort of thing to her face?


We have other days to talk about the politics. This day is set aside to simply remember.
posted by konolia at 12:10 PM on November 11, 2005


Damn. That was heart-breaking.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:30 PM on November 11, 2005


"We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living."
- Gen. Omar Bradley.

Bradley, known by his troops in World War II as "the soldier's general," was a warrior, but his thoughts reflect the best side of the warrior--the peacemaker. It is a moral conundrum that there is perhaps no person more subjectively interested in peace than is the sane person willing to give his life in war.

from: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0511110352nov11,1,5180614.story
posted by Smedleyman at 12:58 PM on November 11, 2005


*doffs hat in memory of Uncle Gene, who fought at Iwo*
posted by languagehat at 1:50 PM on November 11, 2005


.
posted by AuntLisa at 2:41 PM on November 11, 2005


WWII: Thanks, Dad - Rest in Peace. Thanks Uncle Herman, Uncle Ervin, and legions of others. Korea: Thanks, Ben. Thanks, Ed. Vietnam: Thanks, Doug. Thanks, Rickie. Rest in Peace -Donnie Stotts. Thanks, Everyone. Dessert Storm: Thanks, Tracy. Thanks, Adam. Thanks, all of you. I'll remember what you were fighting for, and try to keep it alive.
posted by Corky at 2:44 PM on November 11, 2005


Soldiers are the thugs carrying out murderous policy. Veterans deserve condemnation, not praise.
posted by Jatayu das at 8:26 PM CET on November 11 [!]

Some soldier, not all of them, are thugs. Some veterans, not all of them, deserve condemnation. That's true no matter what we would like to hear and there must be no denial of that expecially on veterans day.

Each soldier has his/her story they behave like brothers but are not brothers, they look similar but they're NOT identical, if you praise one you praise that one, if you condemnd one you condemn that one. They may be fighting for the same perceived cause or for multiple causes, adding to their confusion, but still what they have in common is death.

Of course some of them is in denial, some are cold blooded assasins , but certainly criticizing the whole group as if they all were the same is like praising them as if they all did well..and the trick is to praise the effort, not to praise them and then criticize them when they say "you just praised the effort, but didn't help me" and tell them they're ungrateful bastard grunt swines.
posted by elpapacito at 3:08 PM on November 11, 2005


wow, crying my heart out on veteran's day.

I appreciate the marines' ceremonies surrounding the dead more than the army's. always found the boots + rifle + helmet thing to be depersonalized and creepy.

"he's not a 'body'. his name is jim"

damn
posted by xthlc at 3:16 PM on November 11, 2005


Due respect, and anything I could say would pale in comparison to what I feel. I wish I were a better writer so that I could say how much you men and women mean to us.

You are not paid enough, and you deserve more than you're given.
posted by cmfletcher at 9:29 PM on November 11, 2005


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