Volunteers dedicated to giving forgotten vets proper burials

“Bob Day is losing sleep over efforts to keep local veterans out of paupers’ graves.

Day, the head of a volunteer group that arranges military burials for ex-troops whose remains are unclaimed, didn’t realize there’d be so much demand when he launched the program last year.

Once the latest mass funeral is over, Day is bracing for a mountain of detective work.

He’s amassed a list of more than 1,500 local paupers’-grave candidates from funeral homes and the public fiduciary. Next he must comb through it one name at a time to figure out how many might qualify for military rites.

The process is laborious, he said. Names and other information are submitted to the Department of Veterans Affairs and followed through the system.

Day said he’s trying to find a few volunteers with computer and database experience who are willing to assist in those efforts. ”  *

*Read more

       As I read this article, in the Tucson morning paper, the music box that is some part of my brain was playing the opening lines of a song from Hair:

“Folding the flag
is taking care of the nation.
Folding the flag
is putting it to bed for the night.
I fell through a hole in the flag.
I’m falling through a hole in the flag.
helllllllppppppp”

Unclaimed dead, there are too many. And too many of those were veterans, who may have fallen through a hole in the flag.

Maybe some just preferred to live alone and actually wanted to die alone. See enough of the worst men can do might turn many of us to that hermit’s existence. Maybe some were just too obnoxious for kith and kin to keep dealing with. We all probably know someone like that, It happens. Were some of them ill and untreated? Most likely, and that speaks volumes of ill about our culture and fiscal priorities. We love the pretty; we seek the fanciful and jolly; few of us have a will to brave a look into the dark and unseemly realities behind pleasant vistas.

Too many of my classmates did not live to a ripe old age. My mother could have said the same, as could her mother before her. The culling thunder that is war takes so many saplings. What forest might we have had without such ravages? Yes, some wars needed to be fought. But of the three generations of us, my mom, her mom, and myself, only one of us knew the fight was worth the cost. And my daughter will notice a lot of missing members of her generation, again, for no worthy reason. One out of four generations sent off to war that was actually necessary. So many little wars of contrivance that subsections of generations have been thinned for no noble cause. So many empty seats at family suppers.

We bury our dead, or see them properly interned, with some solemn notice at least. Surely, we are that decent a people?

Well, some are, at least. Please note that and give it some thought. Are we a nation of lip service then blissful amnesia,  or are we human beings, who stop, just a moment, and take note of a passing of a fellow human being? Do some of us roll up sleeves and help do right by our veterans? The blowing of taps is more than notes of music. It is supposed to signal that all is well, and that the dead have been given due tending.

Work for peace and justice, that those who served did not do so in vain. But maybe, bow a head and send a kind thought or prayer. Maybe even help make sure the dead have been tended in a respectful manner.

At least consider saying: Thank you for your service. We will try to be worthy of your sacrifices.

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