Long time St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan is advocating ending the practice of giving most veterans military honors at their funerals.
His reason? Government can't afford it.
Certainly, men and women killed in combat deserve full military honors. It's a way for the country to say, "We honor the memory of those who died in our service." These military honors - and the thought behind them - are intended to provide some solace for the families of the fallen.
But what about the guy who spends a couple of years in the military and then gets on with his life? Bear in mind that most veterans did nothing heroic. They served, and that's laudable, but it hardly seems necessary to provide them all with military honors after they have died. In fact, it seems generous enough to provide veterans and their spouses with free space and headstones at a national cemetery.
Why not let the veterans organizations provide military honors at the funerals of their members? If a person gets out of the Marine Corps and wants to stay connected, he can join the Marine Corps League. I'm sure the 101st Airborne has an association. In a more general vein, we have the American Legion and the VFW.
Providing military honor funerals for their members would be a boon to these organizations. Membership would presumably climb, and veterans who want the military funerals could still get them.
Everybody knows government needs to cut costs.
This is exactly how you do it. You identify things you don't need, and you cut them. Maybe they're nice things, but if you don't need them, you cut them. Admittedly, this program is a small item, but as you go through the massive budget, you look for lots of small items. You try to trim big things, but that doesn't mean you overlook little ones.
Dropping these military funeral honors would not be a slap in the face to veterans. If these honors are important to a person, he or she can join a veterans organization.
We owe a lot to our veterans. They might not have been heroes, but they served. I hope they join with me in considering this a final chance to serve their country. Let's play taps for an unnecessary program.
Weasel Zippers makes a decent point:
When it comes to crap like welfare liberals don't care what the cost is, but when it comes to honoring vets suddenly they're deficit hawks. It's absolutely pathetic.
I've been reading McClellan off and on for 30 years and while "liberal," his arguments are usually logical. In fact, in this case, you could argue that he is too logical. His explanation for cutting spending is exactly right - it's just that in this instance, he is dead wrong.
Honoring those who served by acknowledging their service before they are laid to rest is the absolute least we can do. It doesn't matter how long they served, or whether they were "heroic" or not. The honors given them at their funerals is a way for a grateful nation to say "thank you" for their sacrifices.
The concept of "service" is so degraded today. Let's not degrade it any further by turning our backs on vets who deserve the honors they earned.