Pentagon Offering Mission Names On Tombstones

Looks like the media is slant the facts of yet another story into a jab at the Bush administration.

Troops’ Gravestones Have Pentagon Slogans

ARLINGTON, Va. – Unlike earlier wars, nearly all Arlington National Cemetery gravestones for troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are inscribed with the slogan-like operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts.

Families of fallen soldiers and Marines are being told they have the option to have the government-furnished headstones engraved with “Operation Enduring Freedom” or “Operation Iraqi Freedom” at no extra charge, whether they are buried in Arlington or elsewhere. A mock-up shown to many families includes the operation names.

The vast majority of military gravestones from other eras are inscribed with just the basic, required information: name, rank, military branch, date of death and, if applicable, the war and foreign country in which the person served.

These aren’t “slogans.” Calling them that makes it sound as though this were some sort of crass political maneuver. I don’ think it is. It seems like a perfectly reasonable and respectful thing, to me, for the military to offer the option of having the name of the mission the soldier died in engraved into his or her tombstone for posterity.

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Unfortunately, the mission names have been engraved on a few tombstones without the family being asked.

Families are supposed to have final approval over what goes on the tombstones. That hasn’t always happened.

Nadia and Robert McCaffrey, whose son Patrick was killed in Iraq in June 2004, said “Operation Iraqi Freedom” ended up on his government-supplied headstone in Oceanside, Calif., without family approval.

“I was a little taken aback,” Robert McCaffrey said, describing his reaction when he first saw the operation name on Patrick’s tombstone. “They certainly didn’t ask my wife; they didn’t ask me.” He said Patrick’s widow told him she had not been asked either.

“In one way, I feel it’s taking advantage to a small degree,” McCaffrey said. “Patrick did not want to be there, that is a definite fact.”

That’s unfortunate, but the article is missing a few details. Like whether or not the military offered to replace the headstone (which I’m guessing they probably did, or would have had the family requested it). Or why Patrick would have volunteered for the military if he didn’t really want to, you know, serve in the military. Add that to the fact that the McCaffreys, being anti-Bush and anti-war activists, aren’t exactly the most unbiased people in the world to ask about this and you begin to see how this article was slanted. Their opinions matter, certainly, but it would have been nice to hear from a few other military families as well.

So thus far the article has made it seem as though the White House and the Pentagon are using the headstones of our soldiers for propaganda. Yet what do we find in the thirteenth paragraph of the article? We finally learn that the option of having the soldier’s mission name engraved on his or her tombstone has always been an option, just one that hasn’t always been followed:

VA officials say neither the Pentagon nor White House exerted any pressure to get families to include the operation names. They say families always had the option of including information like battle or operation names, but didn’t always know it.

“It’s just the right thing to do and it always has been, but it hasn’t always been followed,” said Dave Schettler, director of the VA’s memorial programs service.

Well that certainly puts a different spin on this whole story, doesn’t it? Of course, these particular facts will be largely ignored by the media and leftist demagogues when they turn this story into “Bush Using Tombstones For Propaganda!”

By Rob Port of Say Anything.

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