Dang! Just when you thought that the news couldn’t get any weirder and darker for the U.S. military and, in particular, for military veterans. I’ll get to the chaplains in a minute.
First of all, here’s a shout out to NBC News for covering this story and, whether it was intentional or not, including the highly relevant religious angle.
So what’s the lede? A branch of the U.S. Department of Defense has, for seven years, been holding fake memorial rites marking the “arrival” of the remains of soldiers who died in battlefields during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, etc.
After NBC News raised questions about the arrival ceremonies, the Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday that no honored dead were in fact arriving, and that the planes used in the ceremonies often couldn’t even fly but were towed into position.
The solemn ceremonies at a military base in Hawaii are a sign of the nation’s commitment to returning and identifying its fallen warriors. The ceremonies have been attended by veterans and families of MIAs, led to believe that they were witnessing the return of Americans killed in World War II, Vietnam and Korea.
The ceremonies also have been known, at least among some of the military and civilian staff here, as The Big Lie.
The reality on the ground is actually quite complex, because the flag-drapped “coffins” are not empty.
But the remains are not “arriving” and the remains of the soldiers in the transfer cases may or may note be from the battlefields that are announced in the ceremony. Or the remains may have come from those battlefields months earlier. Or, or, or — you get the picture.
So the tears in the eyes of the elderly veterans watching the rites are real, but just about everything else in these (warning, bureaucratic speech alert) “symbolic tributes” is a mixture of fiction or, at best, vague information.
Check this out: