On Thursday, I wrote about a case where a dramatic increase in US casualties in Iraq prompted a US Army base in Washington state to stop holding memorial services for soldiers who die, and instead hold one mass memorial service per month for all the soldiers’ families.
One US commander said, explaining the decision: “As much as we would like to think otherwise, I am afraid that with the number of soldiers we now have in harmâ€™s way, our losses will preclude us from continuing to do individual memorial ceremonies.”
“This type of thing, done in the name of efficiency, really serves only to cheapen the cost of human life. Mass ceremonies are like mass burials,” I said at the time, and recalled another “efficiency” decision Donald Rumsfeld made not to personally sign condolence letters sent to deceased soldiers’ families, instead opting to get a signing machine to do the work for him.
Well, another US Army base, this time Fort Drum in New York state has decided to stop holding individual memorial services, opting for the same type of once-per-month ceremony:
Soldiers from Fort Lewis, Wash., and Fort Drum, N.Y., who are killed in combat will be honored during monthly group memorials instead of individual services beginning in June.
Post officials have received â€œa couple of phone callsâ€ from people who have expressed concern about eliminating individual memorial services, Piek said.
â€œThe best way for us to look at this is the memorial service we do here at Fort Lewis is truly the publicâ€™s only opportunity to come together and remember our fallen soldiers,â€ Piek said.
They’re actually spinning this decision as a “positive thing” in that they suggest it will allow grieving families to share in each others grief and know that they’re not alone. That’s a nice thought, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re only doing this because they got sick and tired of holding memorial ceremonies 19 days out of the month. Hat tip- ThinkProgress.