solders' graves used for Pentagon propaganda - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > Lypton Village > Free Your Mind > Free Your Mind Archive
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 08-24-2005, 06:09 AM   #1
Blue Crack Addict
Irvine511's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 29,460
Local Time: 09:15 PM
solders' graves used for Pentagon propaganda

this has me especially angry, because we just buried my Uncle -- a former Colonel -- in Arlington last week. it's a gorgeous, stirring ceremony, and to see it cheapened by PR is maddening:

Operation Names Mark Arlington Gravestones
Nearly All From Iraq and Afghanistan Show Terms Like 'Operation Enduring Freedom'

ARLINGTON, Va. (Aug. 24) - Unlike those of 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.

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."

The owner of the company that has been making gravestones for Arlington and other national cemeteries for nearly two decades is uncomfortable, too.

"It just seems a little brazen that that's put on stones," said Jeff Martell, owner of Granite Industries of Vermont. "It seems like it might be connected to politics."

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it isn't. "The headstone is not a PR purpose. It is to let the country know and the people that visit the cemetery know who served this country and made the country free for us," VA official Steve Muro said.

Since 1997, the government has been paying for virtually everything inscribed on the gravestones. Before that, families had to pay the gravestone makers separately for any inscription beyond the basics.

It wasn't until the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 that the department instructed national cemetery directors and funeral homes across the country to advise families of fallen soldiers and Marines that they could have operation names like "Enduring Freedom" or "Iraqi Freedom" included on the headstones.

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.

VA officials say they don't know how many families of the more than 2,000 soldiers and Marines who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan have opted to include the operation names.

At Arlington, the nation's most prestigious national cemetery, all but a few of the 193 gravestones of Iraq and Afghanistan dead carry the operation names. War casualties are also buried in many of the 121 other national cemeteries and numerous state and private graveyards.

The interment service supervisor at Arlington, Vicki Tanner, said cemetery representatives show families a mock-up of the headstone with "Operation Iraqi Freedom" or "Operation Enduring Freedom" already included, and ask their approval.

Former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam and headed the Veterans Administration under President Carter, called the practice "a little bit of glorified advertising."

"I think it's a little bit of gilding the lily," Cleland said, while insisting that he's not criticizing families who want that information included.

"Most of the headstones out there at Arlington and around the nation just say World War II or Korea or Vietnam, one simple statement," he said. "It's not, shall we say, a designated theme or a designated operation by somebody in the Pentagon. It is what it is. And I think there's power in simplicity."

The Pentagon in the late 1980s began selecting operation names with themes that would help generate public support for conflicts.

Gregory C. Sieminski, an Army officer writing in a 1995 Army War College publication, said the Pentagon decision to call the 1989 invasion of Panama "Operation Just Cause" initiated a trend of naming operations "with an eye toward shaping domestic and international perceptions about the activities they describe."

Mainline veterans groups are taking the change in stride. American Legion spokesman Donald Mooney said the organization hasn't heard any complaints from its members.

"I'm concerned that we do what the families want," said Bob Wallace, executive director of Veterans of Foreign Wars. "I don't think there's any critical motivation behind this."

Irvine511 is offline  
Old 08-24-2005, 06:49 AM   #2
Blue Crack Supplier
BVS's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: between my head and heart
Posts: 38,062
Local Time: 08:15 PM

BVS is offline  
Old 08-24-2005, 07:08 AM   #3
Rock n' Roll Doggie
hiphop's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: in the jungle
Posts: 7,410
Local Time: 03:15 AM
Arlington is a special place. I think I remember being there, there is President Kennedy and the grave of the Unknown Soldier.

Some quotes, took them from the website:

Turn Again To Life
If I should die and leave you here awhile,
Be not like others, sore and undone,
Who keep long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.
For my sake - turn again to life and smile
Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
Something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine
And I, perchance, may therein comfort you.
-- A. Price Hughes & Mary Lee Hall

Do not stand by my grave and weep ... I am not there;
I do not sleep.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds
circling in flight.
Do not stand by my grave and cry ...
I am not there. I did not die.
-- Royster

They shall grow not old
As we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them . .
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning,
We will remember them!
-- Lawrence Binyon

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

Alone and far removed from earthly care
The noble ruins of men lie buried here.
You were strong men, good men
Endowed with youth and much the will to live
I hear no protest from the mute lips of the dead.
They rest; there is no more to give.
So long my comrades,
Sleep ye where you fell upon the field.
But tread softly pleaseMarch o'er
my heart with ease
March on and on,
But to God alone we kneel.

-- Audie Murphy
hiphop is offline  
Old 08-24-2005, 07:13 AM   #4
Blue Crack Addict
nbcrusader's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Southern California
Posts: 22,070
Local Time: 06:15 PM
I'd leave it to the families whether an operation's name is included on the tombstone. And leave it there.
nbcrusader is offline  
Old 08-24-2005, 07:16 AM   #5
Blue Crack Addict
Irvine511's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 29,460
Local Time: 09:15 PM
sorry for double posting the article -- i can't go back and edit ... can a mod clean it up please?

Irvine511 is offline  
Old 08-24-2005, 07:22 AM   #6
Rock n' Roll Doggie
sulawesigirl4's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Virginia
Posts: 7,416
Local Time: 08:15 PM
Originally posted by Irvine511
sorry for double posting the article -- i can't go back and edit ... can a mod clean it up please?

done and done.
"I can't change the world, but I can change the world in me." - Bono

sulawesigirl4 is offline  
Old 08-24-2005, 08:47 AM   #7
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,435
Local Time: 01:15 AM
In the end, the PR won't matter if the war is percived in historical memory as wrong. I'm sure if this had been done for Vietnam vets, whatever glorified name Tet had (was it Operation Phoenix?) someonew today looking at that marker would think the name an obscene mockery and less of a tribute.

That said, the degree of political propagandizing sickens me. But it doesn't surprise me.

Teta040 is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:15 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright ©