Honoring veterans, disgracing war dead

A few years from now, this nation and countries in Europe will mark a century since that moment — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — when armistice was officially declared to end what would later become known as World War I.

Let’s hope that when that centennial event rolls around in 2018, the United States is better at dealing with its war dead than it has been of late.

In the last week, there have been official reports that show Dover Air Force Base mishandled the remains of U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. A year ago, we learned that even at the revered Arlington National Cemetery, some bodies were misidentified and some urns containing cremated remains were dug up and dumped in a dirt pile.

Those are disgraceful ways to handle the remains of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Meanwhile, Americans today will honor living and deceased veterans in ceremonies throughout the country. Nov. 11 was originally called Armistice Day, to celebrate the end of World War I. But it was later expanded as a day to acknowledge what veterans throughout our history have done for our country.

A list of local Veterans Day events was included in Wednesday’s edition of The Daily Sentinel. It is available online at http://www.gjsentinel.com/news/articles/vets_honored_across_valley.

It’s important for Americans to take time, especially on this day, to honor those who have served our country. Thank surviving veterans you know who served, from World War II through Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. And remember those who died while in the service of our country.

But we also need to do a better job of handling, with dignity and care, the remains of those killed in action. There are several investigations under way regarding both Dover Air Force Base and Arlington National Cemetery. But so far, there has been little but assurances that problems are being fixed. Our veterans and war dead deserve more than that.


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