The story of how the US Military handled the remains of soldiers fighting in the Middle East, continues to weigh on my thoughts.
When the Iraq invasion began, in March 2003, it was supposed to be a quick in and out, over in a couple of weeks, remember? The Great US was going to liberate the people of Iraq. Life would be so much better for them, we were sold, I mean, told.
“W” aka George W. Bush, and the military and the rest of the liars in the Pentagon and Washington, knew Americans had a short attention span for these things. They wanted Americans to move on to another story, and they did everything within the power of the President as a bait and switch marketing game for the gullible among us. And, for a while it worked.
W jumped on the Marine boat looking utterly ridiculous in his soldier costume. The pomp and circumstance with the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner waving in full view, was sickening. Anyone with a brain thought it was the most ridiculous spectacle of propaganda we’d ever seen. It was absolutely sickening.
It was a ruse to change what Americans thought about what was really going on in Iraq. It was pure propaganda. Period. And, of course, it soon became clear the Mission Accomplished was a farce – no, worse than that, it was a lie and a clear ruse to pull the wool over the collective eyes of the USA.
As the numbers of dead American Service men and women began rolling in, the callous W., et al, made sure to ban any pictures or video of coffins coming home to America. Was that because the military was not handling the corpses with any respect or honor? Not photographing coffins, I thought back then. There is only one reason to keep that out of sight and out of mind, I thought. The reason? If those coffins were shown on the evening news it would be emotional for everyone – it would show the reality of those dying over there to people who pay attention to the news.
It could incense Americans to the extent that we asked the hard questions about Iraq. Why were we there? Why are we killing women and children over there? Where are the weapons of mass destruction? That’s why we are there – to get those weapons, right? Well, we know now there never were any weapons.
So, because the whole affair was a lie, was that why the dead were not given the respect of a coffin with a flag? Were the remains of the dead just dumped together – toe tagged maybe, into a bin like dead fish as they were brought back home to this country?
My intuition tells me that there were no coffins to photograph. I have an idea that because the invasion was so expensive, the cost of ceremony over the dead was only a “nice to have” but not important enough to be a must-have.
When the rule about no photography of the coffins coming home from Iraq, it gave me an uneasy feeling. It didn’t make sense. Why would W and the Pentagon want to shield us from the reality of Iraq? Could it be that the reality was not in the least bit aligned with our expectations? Apparently so.
I would absolutely expect this country to treat its own this way. Any government who’d defy the Geneva Convention and torture in ways so heinous, is a ruthless government. Ruthless is our government. Inhumane is our government.
Hell, the men and women in Iraq didn’t even have the equipment they needed to maintain their presence there. Hummers were falling apart. Soldiers didn’t have what they needed to do their jobs, which is why I have convinced myself that W and the Pentagon would be loath to pay for coffins, or any kind of pomp and circumstance to honor anyone. Plus, the American forces in Iraq had to be a smoke-screen to hide the real reason we were there – Money. Contracts. More Money. Big Contracts. Remember Blackwater?
Sorry, I got off topic for a moment…. back to the main story.
There was a special counsel appointed to investigate the cremation and despicable treatment of the corpses. You can find the report at this link: http://www.osc.gov/FY2012/Scanned/10-04%20DI-10-2151,%20DI-10-2138%20and%20DI-10-2734/Analysis.pdf
Here is a small piece of the report (below). I am including this to illustrate that the military has rules about the treatment of those who died in service to his or her country. Here’s a snippet from the report that I referenced above:
… the Port Mortuary is required, under AR 638-2, to process remains in a manner reflecting “the highest standards of the funeral service profession.” ….. “[r]emains will be handled with the reverence, care, and dignity befitting them and the circumstances ….. Port Mortuary Embalmers are required to hold a state Embalmer or Funeral Director’s license; however, most states provide only general guidance or are silent on specific prohibited embalming procedures. It also notes the military’s policy that every effort will be made to prepare the remains of personnel so that service members’ families may view them in uniform.
And then there is this, below, also taken from the report, regarding the destruction of a corpse so he’d fit in a coffin for the family viewing, and for burial. Warning… The below is very disturbing.
Preparation of Remains of Deceased Marine
Mr. Parsons, an Embalming/Autopsy Technician, disclosed information concerning an incident that occurred in February 2010, involving the preparation of the remains ofa deceased Marine. He alleged that Port Mortuary Director Quinton Keel determined that the remains in this case should be made viewable for identification, despite the assessment of several Mortuary Specialists/Embalmers (Embalmers) that the remains were non-viewable and should be wrapped in a full body wrap, with the unifonn placed over the body, rather than dressed in uniform?
Mr. Parsons noted that while a full body wrap was necessary, the Marine’s head and face were in good condition and would have been preserved for viewing by the family, if desired. He stated, however, that Mr. Keel instructed him and an Embalmer to prepare and dress the remains in uniform. When they were unable to position the Marine’s left arm so that it would fit into the uniform, due to massive injuries sustained in that area, they sought guidance from Mr. Keel. In response, Mr. Keel instructed them to saw off the left arm bone and place it in the right leg of the protective undergarment inside the uniform, where the lower portion of the leg was missing. Mr. Parsons refused to cut off the bone; however, the Embalmer complied with Mr. Keel’s instruction and Mr. Parsons placed the bone in the right leg of the undergarment.
I’m going to continue to dig for news about this story.
I won’t be happy until people are arrested and charged with war crimes over this and the war itself.
- Dover Mortuary: Panetta Sets Up Independent Review (offthebase.wordpress.com)
- Hundreds of US remains ‘dumped’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Air Force Officials Disciplined Over Handling of Human Remains – New York Times (nytimes.com)
- Number of dead U.S. soldiers’ remains dumped in landfill sites is revealed by … – Daily Mail (dailymail.co.uk)
I left work two hours early today, at 3:00 and normally don’t get to hear the BBC news on NPR.
So, when I started my car, preparing to drive home, the BBC news was reporting on a story that I would never believe was true, but it is.
Because I hadn’t heard the beginning of the story, I missed the worst part – that these atrocities occurred not way back in a war of the past, like during the Vietnam years. I was sure that was probably the case – I thought our nation was better able to handle the logistics of war and the caring for the dead.
I was wrong. I just read tonight that in 2004 until 2008 the United States Air-force had been systematically been dumping the remains of soldiers in a landfill.
Are you ready to cry or vomit like me? I’m sorry if you hadn’t heard this news and you’re learning it here for the first time. It doesn’t seem possible, does it? This is the United States of America! We are better than that, right?
In 2003 that mad scientist that drunken horrible president, and sick, sick, sick, liar sent American men and women into a war that was not a war, it was a one-sided attack on people who never, never, never attacked us! After all, this country set Saddam Hussein up – gave him all the support in the world. Why? Can you spell O. I. L? Oil and money. Money and Oil. Guns and gun making. That’s what it was about. The fat cat non-military consultants were making millions – millions. Our soldiers, giving their lives and their limbs, their sanity and their minds, were dying every day only to be thrown away like trash.
Remember how the nation felt when the adorable little Caylee Anthony was thrown into a swampy grave in the woods? This is the same situation times hundreds of dead American soldiers.
It makes me want to throw something when I think about this.
People mean nothing?
George W. Bush – the worst criminal the American Presidency has ever known – should, along with the criminal VP Dick Sick Cheney, be tried for war crimes against the United States of America.
History will look back at what these two maniacs did to this country and, with any luck, future generations will learn from it. Well, we can hope that happens before the right-wing evangelical, racist extremists completely destroy this country.
From a mother’s perspective:
Gari-Lynn Smith, the widow of an Army bomb-disposal expert killed in Iraq, began asking the military in 2007 what happened to some of his remains that were identified after his funeral the previous year.
After four years of letters and phone calls she received a letter from the mortuary in April informing her that her husband’s partial remains had been disposed of in the King George County landfill, reports the Post.
“I hope this information brings some comfort to you during your time of loss,” read the letter.
Ms Smith told the Post that what the mortuary had done was “disgusting”.
Since the landfill dumping ended three years ago, such cremated partial remains are now buried at sea.
After the Post reported the practice in early November, federal investigators released a report lambasting “gross mismanagement” at the air base mortuary.
It emerged that a dead soldier’s ankle had been lost and a damaged arm bone was sawed off a dead Marine before burial so he could fit in his uniform and coffin.
The commander at the morgue, a colonel and two civilian officials were disciplined. READ the full BBC story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16081240
Here is the story from the Washington Post, the paper who broke this story: Air Force dumped ashes of more troops’ remains in Va. landfill than acknowledged
I am so tired tonight I am seeing double. I will give this a more in-depth exploration tomorrow.
This is a very topical Whack. I agree it’s necessary to get out of your box to look for unusual possibilities in usual places!
It’s limiting to be defined by a single box because, as human beings, we are constantly evolving and evolution will happen whether we like it or not. The world will go on with or without us. And if we’re lucky – if our children’s children are lucky, we will continue to evolve as a human race and stop making wars because we don’t like our neighbors religion, or we want their land, or their weapons or even their people.
It’s unhealthy to be in a box Life in a box is no life at all. Thoughts outside of the four walls of the box are far more interesting, don’t you think? Going outside of the box involves risk. And an open mind. Opening the mind is not easy when prejudices interfere. And being risk-adverse is nearly as sad as not accepting or appreciating people for their differences.
99.9% of all DNA in a human being is identical. Yet, we are afraid of a seeing a Muslim or Arab person in an airport! There is nothing so horrible as that kind of disrespect. People who accept the Islam faith are not different than people who accept the Christian faith. There are horrible people and there are loving and beautiful people in both beliefs.
Most people have two eyes, a nose, teeth, arms and hands with usually five fingers and five toes on the end of two feet that are at the end of their two legs. Chances are, though, if you happen to be one of the brave individuals who jumped on the “Mission Possible” boat with criminal George W. Bush, you may no longer have arms or legs.
If you sacrificed your body as a result to the big lie, I am so sorry. Americans know your reasons for fighting were honorable. Unfortunately, you were led by a criminal into a war that was based on fiction and lies.
Criminal George W. lied to Congress and the American people for his own political interests. Criminal George W. lied and attacked the people of Iraq in March of 2003 without provocation. It had nothing to do with 9/11 either. As most of us are aware, it had been proven that Iraq had no role in those attacks.
We attacked Iraq because the Bush Crime Family, with their deep family ties in Saudi Arabia, had their eye on a bigger prize: Oil. Texans must have their oil.
So, this Get out of Your Box Whack refers to beliefs, culture, and how we should look at the world not by our rules, but by a set of truths different from our own.
There are person (s) who call themselves Christians and post on this blog to fight, and to lecture me (and others) about our religious views.
I’ve learned there are two kinds of “Christians” – the people who go to church because it fills them up with things they value and enjoy believing in. And those who are fanatics about religion with one goal in life – to tell “non-believers” like me how horrible we are because we question “religion” and because we don’t believe in their religious brand, we are not the chosen ones.
Sorry, folks, but demeaning non-believers is not Christian. It’s just annoying and hypocritical in the extreme.
I think it’s beyond the beyond of wonderful that you love your religion, but I don’t like it jammed down my throat in mean or demeaning ways. So, leave me alone! If I wanted to become a Holy Christian person I would! But, I don’t want to. I like what I think and I will go on thinking this way, too. Get the message? I don’t like being boxed in.
I enjoy reading about the history of religion, of all religions and I don’t like one over the other. I like the diversity of many religions! Who can say there is just one GOD? I bet GOD is a SHE.
Oh, and I believe in evolution which tends to be the opposite of what the loud Christians believe.
I believe in Islam. I believe in Judaism. I believe in Buddhism (I practiced Buddhism for a couple of years until life got in the way.) I believe in your religion, whatever it is because I am able to get out of the box with curiosity and find something good in what you believe. But I don’t want what you have, okay? So, you can go away now.
You’ve already told me you’re the chosen one….and you’ve explained how I am nothing and I will not get into the Kingdom, and when I die I’ll be on the wrong side death’s door, or something inane like that and blah blah blah. When I hear all of that I have to ask, who’s the hater?
I never answer the door when the religious people come knocking on Saturday, all dressed to the nines in 90 degree weather. I won’t respond to people who attack me because I don’t care about their religion. I would love to talk about anyone’s religion, but NEVER ever will I entertain insults. I don’t trust people who want to push religion on anyone. Religion should be lovely, personal and enlightening, right? Dumb me. I thought the study of religion would result in wisdom, sensitivity, acceptance.
Speaking of wisdom….
Did you know more and more children are being born without wisdom teeth? A professor told a class I was in that because more and more people are born without wisdom teeth, it is due to the evolutionary process of discarding human traits that are superfluous, or not needed.
I found that fascinating – to be witness to evolution as it is happening. However, there are two schools of thought on this. One school says that if a person does not have wisdom teeth as a result of genetics, that trait will be passed on, and on, and on. Evolution, on the other hand, will cause traits that are not useful in an environment to slowly disappear. The differences are not so different in my view… but I am hardly a scientist or anthropologist.
However, my professor could be right, and he could be wrong because scientists are not quite certain. The point here, then, we cannot dismiss either possibility because the truth is still evolving and it changes…..
We all have roots extending back 200,000 years to the emergence of the first modern humans in Africa, and back more than 6 million years to the evolution of the earliest human species in Africa. This amazing story of adaptation and survival is written in the language of our genes, in every cell of our bodies—as well as in the fossil and behavioral evidence. http://humanorigins.si.edu/
Regarding “Get out of Your Box,” the message is as clear as day. Wouldn’t you agree that thinking in a box is incredibly limiting? Being in a box means to accept only what we know – or think we know. Like Hamlet said to his friend Horatio:
There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene V.
- What does Islam and Buddhism have in common (wiki.answers.com)
- How does the different Chinese religions live together in harmony (wiki.answers.com)
- What religious practices of Judaism separated it from other religions in the first century (wiki.answers.com)
The subject of this WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Opportunity.
Maybe I am just over-tired and cranky because the first thing I thought about in relation to opportunity was the lack of opportunity for so many people in this country.
To be lacking something in America, the land of opportunity is a constant these days, isn’t it?
And so, I thought about what opportunity means, and I think it’s really a path that you have to get on and stay on.
It’s a path to … ? Well, no where, these days.
Greed has destroyed many dreams, bombed the paths of too many people in this country and around the world.
When greedy Americans – big businesses and banks, destroy paths for the little guy, the nation suffers. When the rich are too rich, the poor is too poor and homeless; jobless and hungry, there is terrible imbalance that will eventually right itself.
If necessary, it will take a revolution.
Our America was once “the land of opportunity,” remember?
“America – The home of the free and the brave” is becoming America the homeless nation.
“So, Waldo, where”s the “American Dream, hiding on your map?” No more dreams, you say? Only nightmares? Nightmares, are dreams too you say?
America, our nightmare – the land of dumb and the dumber. The land of Larry, Larry and Larry. Dumb, Dumb and Dummer. Yeah! Keep ’em dumb. We don’t need schools. It’s just a place for babysitting kids!
The future of this country belongs to the children who are not being educated. The people and children of this America are being dumbed down by the hideous state of education in this country.
What about the future? Well, George W. Bush wasn’t concerned with that:
“What is going to be your legacy?” asked Suthichai Sae-Yoon, of the Nation Multimedia Group in Thailand.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Bush replied. “‘ll be dead when they finally figure it out.” Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/08/george-bush-leg.html
It’s not my intent to place blame, but “W” as I like to call him, will be proven to be the worst president our nation has ever known.
However, we don’t have the time to place blame, we have to move and find solutions.
The time has come for the uber-rich and the stinking greedy corporations to pay what they owe to a country that allowed them to prosper.
The time has come for Occupy Wallstreet. I am grateful to the men and women involved in Occupy Wall Street; I applaud their efforts and sacrifices for the sake of our liberty – so we, the little guy and gal can get on and stay on the path of opportunity
An excellent set of charts, facts and analysis is given by Henry Blodget, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Business Insider, in an October 15th report. He writes:
FACT: Unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression (with the exception of a brief blip in the early 1980s).
FACT: corporate profits are at an all-time high, both in absolute dollars and as a share of the economy.
FACT: Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. In other words, corporate profits are at an all-time high, in part, because corporations are paying less of their revenue to employees than they ever have. There are lots of reasons for this, many of which are not the fault of the corporations. (It’s a global economy now, and 2-3 billion new low-cost employees in China, India, et al, have recently entered the global workforce. This is putting pressure on wages the world over.)
FACT: Income and wealth inequality in the US economy is near an all-time high: The owners of the country’s assets (capital) are winning, everyone else (labor) is losing. The top earners are capturing a higher share of the national income than they have anytime since the 1920s:
There is a definite imbalance of opportunity, there is injustice when children and adults in our country are homeless, foodless, jobless….
A home, a job, some food isn’t too much to ask, is it?
Can you imagine being homeless? Can you imagine being hungry?
Thousands of people aren’t imagining it, they’re living it.
We have to support change.