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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.

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.

Comments (23)

They're using it as the nam... (Below threshold)

They're using it as the name of the war. We haven't worked out the historical shorthand for either the Afghan or Iraqi theaters of operations. Will the latter be Gulf War II?

Whaddaya expect??? Its an A... (Below threshold)

Whaddaya expect??? Its an AP writer. They never met a terrorist they didn't like.

I am suprised that the fami... (Below threshold)

I am suprised that the families were not asked. I know that we gave final clearance for my father's headstone at our local national cemetary.

My mother and I commented on how we wish that there had been an option to include what war he served in... the cold war. Alas, that one is not recognized.

Once again, Rob goes batsh*... (Below threshold)

Once again, Rob goes batsh*t over an AP non-story in which he tries to discern a "liberal media bias." Such posts invariably complain not so much about the reporting, and more about the wording of the headline, and the ordering of the different paragraphs. AP writers generally don't have control of either of those things. These posts are getting tiresome.

Once again, Earl goes batsh... (Below threshold)

Once again, Earl goes batsh*t over Rob pointing out media bias.

Earl said "These posts are getting tiresome."

I do have to agree with you there. Earl, your posts are getting tiresome.

Those parents that weren't ... (Below threshold)

Those parents that weren't asked...did the deceased have a spouse, or someone else esignated to handle those sorts of things?

Actually, the article calls... (Below threshold)

Actually, the article calls the operation names "slogan-like", not slogans. Let's face it, they are very much like slogans. In fact, if you look at the third definition provided, they are very much like slogans.

I think we can all agree that operational names are chosen so they express the aims or nature of the enterprise - oh wait, that's the first definition of a slogan.

Perhaps there is some bias in this piece, but it's got nothing to do with calling the operation names "slogan-like". That's just plain accurate.

Once again, David goes bats... (Below threshold)

Once again, David goes batsh*t over Earl for suggesting Rob is (one again) going bat sh*t over alleged liberal media bias.

David said Earl said "These posts are getting tiresome."

I do have to agree with you there.

David, your posts are getting tiresome, and you're not clever or funny.

For the record, I know I'm not either.

OK, Earl. I searc... (Below threshold)

OK, Earl.

I searched Wizbang (before my first response to you, actually) and the only other post I see by you recently is here. In your comment to that post, as in this one, you are arguing with Rob over a post about media bias. And your 'arguement' in that post did not have any more merit than your 'arguement' in this post, which will tend to make your posts tiresome.

So, my statement about you was accurate. Your response however, was just juvenile.

Next time you want to disagree with a post, try showing examples (with links) rather than useless generalizations (i.e. "such posts invariably..."). You won't sound like such a troll that way.

David -- Actually, the post... (Below threshold)

David -- Actually, the poster "Batsh*t" wasn't me (unfortunately I can think of no way to prove it).

I wasn't here to get in a fight. Like I said in the earlier post, I think there's plenty of evidence of bias in the media out there, it's just I don't think these articles are very good examples. Obviously you disagree, and that's fine.

Earl,Apologies, th... (Below threshold)


Apologies, then. I did assume that the "Batsh*t" poster was you.

I agree with you that there is plenty of evidence of media bias. And this article Rob posted may not be the most egregious example of media bias, but it is still an example of it. However, it may be more exemplary of the media's ignorance when it comes to the military.

Obviously the Bush neo-con ... (Below threshold)

Obviously the Bush neo-con cabal is using these soldiers names on gravestones to further their agenda. Liberals like Mother Sheehan (queue angelic music) would never use soldiers names on gravestones to further their agenda. oops.

kbiel, I don't think the so... (Below threshold)

kbiel, I don't think the soldiers' names are the subject of this dispute.

Do any of the gravestones o... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Do any of the gravestones of soldiers killed from '41 to '45 have 'WWII' etched in them?

That darn FDR must have been a propagandist.

Mantis,Those names... (Below threshold)


Those names are when Sheehan's crowd uses them without the families' permission. Especially when they do so against their express wishes.

Sure, and that's pretty dam... (Below threshold)

Sure, and that's pretty damn disrespectful, as is putting something on a soldier's gravestone without asking the parents.

Btw Rob, I like the flow of your post, starting with

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

but wait, can we get a different perspective on this? You found one which

Well that certainly puts a different spin on this whole story, doesn't it?

Glad you were there to counter this article with, well, the same article. Sorry you don't like that people think the war names the Pentagon comes up with nowadays, but they are slogans (since '89, anyway):

The brass views them as an important part of the public relations battle, where an evocative name can serve as a symbol or "brand" for the underlying purpose of the military action....
" 'Just Cause' was the first U.S. combat operation since the Korean War whose nickname was designed to shape domestic and international perceptions about the mission it designated," wrote Army Lt. Col. Gregory Sieminski in a historical study, "The Art of Naming Operations."

I don't think the soldie... (Below threshold)

I don't think the soldiers' names are the subject of this dispute.

Really mantis? So, if we had headstones without names and just "slogans" on them, then would their still be a dispute? Of course the use of dead soldiers names to further a political agenda is the crux of the issue. The difference is, one side gathers the permission of the deceased soldier's next of kin while the other just appropriates the names for their own use without regard to the wishes of the surviving family members. And one mistake does not a conspiracy make.

And one mistake does not... (Below threshold)

And one mistake does not a conspiracy make.

Who said anything about a conspiracy?

When we visited my Mom-in-L... (Below threshold)

When we visited my Mom-in-Law and Stepdad in Law's marker at a Veteran's Cemetary in Idaho, the ships he served on and Viet Nam were on his marker and he didn't die until last year. The brass plate on my Dad's grave provided by the VA has WWII, Army Air Corps, Pacific Theater. He passed away in '87.

I don't think this is anything weird at all. It's common on a military grave to have the most notable service listed. I believe where a soldier gives his life is notable and an honor to the soldier.

And like it or not you f***ing moonbats the young man died protecting your sorry a**es.

Why don't we just start cal... (Below threshold)

Why don't we just start calling it all World War III or IV depending on whether or not you count the Cold War?

Let's be real here. All the... (Below threshold)

Let's be real here. All the story says is that they're using "slogan-like" names for the Iraq and Afghanitan wars, and that some families (one of whom was quoted and identified in the article) were surprised to see the inscription on their loved-one's tombstone without being consulted. It's also the first time these slogan-like titles were used on tombstones.

First, this is something new, so why isn't there news value? Second, if you guys can't see that "Operation Iraqi Freedom" isn't more slogan-like than, say "World War Two" than you're either kidding yourselves or being dishonest. The reason I feel strongly about this is because on the day they launched the operation and referred to it as "Operation Iraqi Freedom" I told people "They picked that name because they have a strong feare that they won't find WMDs." I work in PR, and believe me, that name was picked as a slogan with the express purpose of getting people to focus on "Iraqi freedom" and not on WMDs. The Normandy invasion was "Operation Overlord." The name wasn't designed to shape public opinion; it was just code. Can you really not see the difference?

Right, Chris! They should h... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Right, Chris! They should have called the Normandy invasion 'Operation Normandy Invasion', not 'Operation Overlord'.

It's not like they were trying to keep it secret or anything.

How dare the Bushies choose names that also have positive connotations. It would be so much better if the whole thing was named 'Operation Some Americans Are Gonna Die'. They shouldn't even hint at a postive outcome or point out a good cause.

Les -Could you pos... (Below threshold)

Les -

Could you possible demonstrate any less reading comprehension? I didn't criticize the name "Operation Overlord." My point was that until recently operations were given code names that weren't designed as marketing tools. You're right, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is supposed to have a positive connotation. That's what makes it a marketing slogan. The point wasn't whether the Bush administration should use the slogan, the point was that some, myself included, find it less than respectful to put a marketing slogan on a tombstone, particularly without checking with the families.

And as a side note, I personally find this marketing slogan offensive because, as I stated originally, I really believe it was designed to cover the administration's ass on the WMD issue. Bush threw around a lot of reasons for going into Iraq, but you can't seriously tell me you think "Iraqi freedom" was presented as our primary motivation. I seem to recall a lot more talk about WMDs, mushroom clouds and links to 9/11.

And do you really think the only two choices were "Operation Iraqi Freedom" or "Operation Some Americans Are Gonna Die?" I bet if you thought real hard you could come up with something kind of in-between.






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