COVID response still causing chaos at Arlington Cemetery

On January 24, 2022, less than a month after Robert "Jazz" Jasinski celebrated his 60th birthday, his six-decade run on this third post from the sun came to an abrupt and unexpected close.  It would not be until May 23, 2023 that his cremains would be finally interred in their ultimate resting place in Arlington National Cemetery.

As the nation prepares to observe Memorial Day, it was certainly a tailored time to have his last and long overdue request realized.  The elapsed time of sixteen months — two hockey seasons — would have stirred a hearty laugh tinged with a little disgust from my old friend.  Jazz was all too familiar with the enduring federal bureaucracy, having spent most of his life toiling on the front lines for Uncle Sam — first as a U.S. Marine and then with the Transportation Security Administration.

The extended and unnecessary ripple effects of COVID-19 still resonate throughout America's capital city, and wokeful ground zero is Arlington National Cemetery.  In no way does COVID still make such a prolonged wait for burial justified.  It is nothing short of a national disgrace.

We have no issue with packaging multi-billions in military aid to Ukraine and thought nothing of bequeathing nearly as much in military hardware to the Taliban in our flight out of Afghanistan — another national disgrace.

Millions pour over our southern border illegally, while we drown in government debt, living in a cultural zeitgeist where plenty of folks think nothing of using a $1,000 iPhone 14 Pro to check their food stamp balance.

The nation's capital was like a second home to the Delaware County, Pennsylvania native, having done a tour of duty at Marine Corps Headquarters.  A favorite D.C. haunt of his was Arlington.  Yet it took sixteen months to finally inter Jazz's ashes among some of the men he served with and those he helped bury while serving with the Corps's Casualty Notification Unit decades ago.

If Jazz had survived and known that any veteran had such a long waiting period, he would have been heard.  Given the circumstances, he never would have placed himself in a situation to jump the line, either.

Still, with this Memorial Day weekend upon America, we can't bury some of our veterans in a timely fashion at the nation's most hallowed and historic burial grounds, affording closure for so many families.

There still exists a third of America who takes seriously the nation's oldest president, whose administration is devoid of many things — most of all wisdom.  According to Biden's recent commencement address at nearby Howard University, America's greatest threats are not foreign, but domestic.  Is it any wonder why, on this Memorial Day weekend, the nation is circling the drain?

A call to Arlington's general service number yielded nothing but excuses — namely, COVID overkill.  What was emphasized was how Arlington conducts approximately 6,400 burials a year averaging 30 per day.  Their backlog consists of 4,500, extending the wait to sixteen months — now in its third year.

Unanswered in another column from a year ago was when Biden abandoned Afghanistan in record time.  Why couldn't he sign another one of his numerous presidential executive orders to expedite laying to rest heroic American veterans in a timely fashion?

Pulling punches is not in the Jasinski DNA.  Jazz's older brother Stan was generous in providing solutions, saying, "They need to think out of the box by holding larger ceremonies for groups at a time, use special ceremonial units or ROTC for extra manpower to reduce the wait.  They have got to stop this 'this is what we have always done' mentality." 

Arlington guards the remains of more than 330,000 immortal souls, buried under plain, white granite stones, all in formation, where every day is Memorial Day, and where waiting lists should be entrusted to the dustbin of history. 

Arlington is the priciest of American real estate and is the unabridged narrative of the nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.  And my old friend, whose ashes now finally rest here, would stress in no uncertain terms that we need to keep it that way.

Rest easy, Jazz.  You are finally home.


Image via Flickr, public domain.

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