716

Columnist: Ditch Funeral Honors for Non-Hero Vets

“Bear in mind that most veterans did nothing heroic. They served, and that’s laudable, but it hardly seems necessary to provide them all with military honors after they have died.”

This is the argument offered by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bill McClellan in his recent column on why the federal government should no longer provide military funeral honors to veterans.

Give honors only to those who have died in combat, he writes. If others want honors they should look to their veterans organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VWF) to provide them.

“Everybody knows government needs to cut costs,” he writes. “This is exactly how you do it. You identify things you don’t need, and you cut them.”

McClellan bases his knowledge of the lack of heroism in veterans off his own experience in Vietnam.

“I did nothing heroic. Nor did any of my close friends. But I knew people who did, and it devalues the real heroes to say that everybody was one,” he writes. “If everybody is a hero, nobody is.”

I can see how he arrived at this conclusion. He’s saying that in a drafted military you are there because you have no other choice.

But he’s still way off target.

Vietnam or not– not everybody is a hero. But we know that everyone who served IS. Plenty of drafted men didn’t even show up, placing those who did in a different category. And enduring scorn after homecoming, as our many Vietnam Vet commenters will happily tell you, is no joke either.

McClellan doesn’t think he’s a hero. But isn’t humility one of the marks of heroism?

And in today’s wars, again, certainly not everybody is a hero. Less than one percent of Americans volunteer to serve. That makes more than 99 percent of Americans (with the obvious exclusion of our firefights and cops who are heroes in their own right) excluded from this category.

Ninety-nine percent of Americans are not heroes. One percent are heroes just by virtue of volunteering for the risk of war.

Not everybody is a hero. Just the one percent.

The other problem with McClellan’s argument is the question of how you define “hero.”

McClellan says that the real heroes are the ones who have given up actual life. And there’s no question about it – that is the highest sacrifice.

But we know from personal experience that plenty who have served have given all but their life. Some have given some or all their limbs. Some have given their ability to think, to remember, to function. Some have given their mental health. Our heroes have given their hearing, they’re skeletal integrity, their ability to walk without a limp, going a week without combat dreams and many more things the 99 percent takes for granted.

We know that the military’s citation and awards programs are imperfect at best. Plenty of acts of heroism go unrecognized or unreported. So even saying “only give honors to those who have been recognized as earning it” would miss the mark.

Yes, we have to cut costs. And yes, the way you do it is by cutting things you don’t need.

Do veterans NEED full honors at their funeral? Probably not. But America NEEDS military veterans. And there’s no price you can put on that.

About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

Comments

  1. Boettcher says:
  2. Karen says:
  3. Chris says:
  4. Nancy says:
  5. Frenchie says:
  6. robert c brenzel, sr says:
  7. Steve says:
  8. Chris says:
  9. Tanker6 says:
  10. NavyVet says:
  11. Tex says:
  12. Pisse*d says:
  13. Reconray says:
  14. t spencer says:
  15. Vietnam Combat Vet says:
  16. liam says:
  17. CMSgt Halsted USAF says:
  18. Walt says:
  19. Michael says:
  20. Ashley says:
  21. T Bird says:
  22. T Bird says:
  23. CDS says:
  24. danny barrett says:
  25. AFPatriot says:
  26. Mericn2dabone says:
  27. EJHarris says:
  28. Glen Zimmerman says:
  29. Daniel Gosz says:
  30. slturbiner says:
  31. cruisemama98 says:
  32. julieann2005 says:
  33. Ashley says:
  34. Alan says:
  35. pete says:
  36. jtm1987 says:
  37. jim6122 says:
  38. Necroconvict says:
  39. Morris Devereaux says:
  40. Brandi says:
  41. Ben in SoCal says:
  42. Denise says:
  43. ronski says:
  44. Mark Stoughton says:
  45. Michael says:
  46. Michael says:
  47. Michael says:
  48. DaughterOfAVeteran says:
  49. Dealer says:
  50. Linda says:
  51. Christopher Bell says:
  52. Brandy says:
  53. Mike Fitzsimmons says:
  54. IS2 says:
  55. vorange says:
  56. dusty says:
  57. Diane (army mom) says:
  58. bigbill1961 says:
  59. Armybravo says:
  60. Karlene says:
  61. psheeren says:
  62. sabrinacking says:
  63. Trevor says:
  64. michael says:
  65. TSgt Josh M says:
  66. JDavid McDaniel says:
  67. FormerMPSGT says:
  68. kirsten says:
  69. Colonel J B Watt says:
  70. reddevilsinbaggypants says:
  71. Ethan Williams says:
  72. spouse2000 says:
  73. D.A.Veteran says:
  74. woody says:
  75. Will says:
  76. wb2441@gmail.com says:
  77. Army Chica says:
  78. Jeff says:
  79. groovedawg says:
  80. MJS says:
  81. MJS says:
  82. john dobise says:
  83. andrew Casciato Sr. says:
  84. Warthog1 says:
  85. Dale says:
  86. Paul Rivers says:
  87. Paul Rivers says:
  88. Paul Rivers says:
  89. Marc Helwig says:
  90. Diego says:
  91. George C. Dinsmore says:
  92. Lawrence N. Adams says:
  93. sean says:
  94. Dorman says:
  95. Dave N says:
  96. Phillip Smith says:
  97. Joseph Diggs Sr says:
  98. jack says:
  99. Ronald says:
  100. Roy says:
  101. adrian wecer says:
  102. J says:
  103. Foam MM1(SS) says:
  104. Clarence says:
  105. EMill says:
  106. Tbone says:
  107. Eric says:
  108. Chris says:
  109. PolicyWonk says:
  110. Miguel Lopez says:
  111. Tom says:
  112. gtltc says:
  113. G.L. Benton says:
  114. Fred says:
  115. joy millet says:
  116. guest says:
  117. PFC FRED HALLER says:
  118. martin says:
  119. danny gee says:
  120. Verdis Jackson says:
  121. E-4 USMS JK says:
  122. Frank Prautzsch says:
  123. FAJ says:
  124. John Weber says:
  125. hitthedeck says:
  126. Disgusted!!! says:
  127. Cbuck says:
  128. Jay Kelley says:
  129. NGB says:
  130. BMJ says:
  131. C. Shell says:
  132. Mike Brennan says:
  133. Thomas Reece says:
  134. David Core says:
  135. John Boone says:
  136. Mike G says:
  137. usvet says:
  138. Annette McLeod says:
  139. Darrin mcclaskey says:
  140. Darrin mcclaskey says:
  141. Warren Lynch says:
  142. Tom Gainer says:
  143. Nik says:
  144. Paul says:
  145. John says:
  146. George says:
  147. Geo1 says:
  148. Jeff Leatherman says:
  149. Fox says:
  150. Warren Lynch says:
  151. Henry Niese says:
  152. Teufel Hunden 1775 says:
  153. materene says:
  154. Jeff Leatherman says:
  155. Jeff Leatherman says:
  156. Jeff Leatherman says:
  157. Tom says:
  158. Jeff Leatherman says:
  159. Gary Nason says:
  160. Terry White says:
  161. Bill S. says:
  162. Geo1 says:
  163. les says:
  164. Luis Corona says:
  165. Kevin B says:
  166. @eagle2758 says:
  167. Joe says:
  168. Everett L Hollins says:
  169. John says:
  170. J B says:
  171. VN_65_67_JD says:
  172. vietvet52 says:
  173. vietvet52 says:
  174. charles atkins says:
  175. Don says:
  176. USN10 says:
  177. Allen B says:
  178. Allen B says:
  179. weedo9 says:
  180. david says:
  181. Dave Qualls says:
  182. Richard Bates says:
  183. Danny says:
  184. Steve Ludwig says:
  185. sgtsc11 says:
  186. Hate Huffington Post says:
  187. Heywood Yablowme says:
  188. Pete says:
  189. Pete says:
  190. Allen B says:
  191. LANSING GARDNER says:
  192. Rayvonne Fields says:
  193. maddog 0302 says:
  194. don says:
  195. wojo13 says:
  196. avery says:
  197. SteveHoughEMCUSN ret says:
  198. steve says:
  199. steve says:
  200. Pat Bennett says:
  201. stadalberts says:
  202. JPHamilton says:
  203. Sylvan says:
  204. Drasil52 says:
  205. tvanhees says:
  206. Peter Muzyka says:
  207. Leigh says:
  208. Debora says:
  209. Blinker says:
  210. eagleznest says:
  211. James says:
  212. L. Maurice Wynn says:
  213. 1dragon1a says:
  214. dolphincritic says:
  215. 1dragon1a says:
  216. Chief says:
  217. 1dragon1a says:
  218. Mark Purnell says:
  219. catt11daddy says:
  220. Abner says:
  221. Dan says:
  222. Marine sgt says:
  223. Alan says:
  224. Dirtyoldhermit says:
  225. T.David Lane says:
  226. Sam Poss says:
  227. 503 MP says:
  228. Ret. Army Sgt Little says:
  229. Mike says:
  230. BJ says:
  231. BJ says:
  232. Gus says:
  233. camelpr says:
  234. Tommy Harris says:
  235. Larry says:
  236. Dan Mc says:
  237. Philip Fischetti says:
  238. JWCAM says:
  239. wyatt says:
  240. Unworthy Veteran says:
  241. GradyPhilpott says:
  242. Peacetime Army vet says:
  243. DJabacker says:
  244. Craig says:
  245. Guest says:
  246. Rob Pace says:
  247. WindWoe says:
  248. gunny2091 says:
  249. Bob says:
  250. Jerry Sisk says:
  251. anon says:
  252. DJH says:
  253. John says:
  254. Vince Blanchard says:
  255. J2will says:
  256. frank says:
  257. dmac says:
  258. Warrant4 says:
  259. David says:
  260. LCPLE3 says:
  261. dennis says:
  262. Holman says:
  263. Charlie Hess says:
  264. @Watchman444 says:
  265. Jim C arter says:
  266. Frank says:
  267. proud to service says:
  268. M Bernard says:
  269. Walt S. says:
  270. Jim Furco says:
  271. RDW says:
  272. Maurice says:
  273. Bac ci Scott says:
  274. Ripley says:
  275. Bruce Thomas ADC says:
  276. trudietrey says:
  277. ed spalding says:
  278. ddf says:
  279. Steve says:
  280. JDE_Austin says:
  281. J.Bloom CSM Retired. says:
  282. Thomas E. Caldwell says:
  283. TiredVet says:
  284. Don Park says:
  285. Michael says:
  286. Edward says:
  287. EHD says:
  288. terry says:
  289. marinewife79 says:
  290. JV Spears says:
  291. navcdr says:
  292. John B says:
  293. T Woods says:
  294. Larry says:
  295. Keef Hamm says:
  296. KBM says:
  297. freeamericausa says:
  298. Moon says:
  299. Richard says:
  300. USN Ret says:
  301. David says:
  302. Lawrence D. Morrell says:
  303. Rev. Dr. Thomas Peavy says:
  304. Tim M. says:
  305. Paul Medeiros says:
  306. BillK says:
  307. Donald Husing says:
  308. Luis S Jimenez says:
  309. Roy D. Hartley says:
  310. Chief Pat says:
  311. Bob says:
  312. Bob says:
  313. George a Vet says:
  314. Maj Flesher Ret AF says:
  315. Mark Gaunt says:
  316. VICTOR says:
  317. Dave Knowles says:
  318. Lynn Schrage says:
  319. Tomcat01 says:
  320. Ranger4668 says:
  321. Solution58 says:
  322. Dragonfry70 says:
  323. W. D. Kriese says:
  324. Anon says:
  325. Daryl Reed says:
  326. Robert says:
  327. TJ says:
  328. A.George Mertz says:
  329. Kim says:
  330. Frank Gillette says:
  331. Friel, SK1 (SW) RET says:
  332. Kim Blank. says:
  333. Butch says:
  334. Rich Tufts says:
  335. Alan says:
  336. nuklnevy says:
  337. Elizabeth III says:
  338. jeff says:
  339. NUKLNEVY says:
  340. Houghton says:
  341. batman says:
  342. Jude says:
  343. Tom Rutherford says:
  344. JN Gordon says:
  345. Norman Davis says:
  346. Dave Krueger says:
  347. sargentray says:
  348. Bill says:
  349. Steve says:
  350. TThomas says:
  351. Egressman says:
  352. John Royeton says:
  353. grouchow says:
  354. paco says:
  355. Ron Oakley says:
  356. B0ATS says:
  357. mlsncma says:
  358. Bronco13 says:
  359. Gunny Nick says:
  360. Jim Stelling says:
  361. Harry Mahan says:
  362. Stan Hentnick says:
  363. USNavrine says:
  364. Carl says:
  365. ThoseWhoServe says:
  366. Shaky Jake says:
  367. Daniel says:
  368. Fran says:
  369. rochelle says:
  370. frankie500 says:
  371. Ret SFC R. Tetreault says:
  372. George Washing says:
  373. Dave says:
  374. Donna says:
  375. johno says:
  376. rbhutchison says:
  377. Capt Willaim Walker says:
  378. Anthony Torres says:
  379. Toland says:
  380. Craftmaster says:
  381. Mike says:
  382. Leonard says:
  383. Keith Herdman says:
  384. Roger Gering says:
  385. Larry says:
  386. Will says:
  387. B. L. Nevels says:
  388. Sam says:
  389. cws says:
  390. Don says:
  391. Don says:
  392. Chris says:
  393. DValyo says:
  394. DMZ07 says:
  395. David's Wife says:
  396. denbozz67 says:
  397. Mel says:
  398. James says:
  399. Eli says:
  400. MSgt S McClellan Ret says:
  401. JJJ says:
  402. Bill Penrod says:
  403. Willy Brown says:
  404. michael says:
  405. ken says:
  406. Anna M. Bucciarelli says:
  407. HAUGER says:
  408. MARCO says:
  409. Neva Maynard says:
  410. USAF Retired 1993 says:
  411. mCcABE says:
  412. McCabe says:
  413. Tom1931 says:
  414. BTC90 says:
  415. Proud American says:
  416. Michael says:
  417. Ken says:
  418. Carl says:
  419. MPCO retired says:
  420. Dennis P says:
  421. Gertie says:
  422. Robert says:
  423. Harraid says:
  424. Jennings says:
  425. Colonel Mom says:
  426. Steve M says:
  427. OregonAviator says:
  428. NCB says:
  429. Anthony says:
  430. jdelauter1 says:
  431. janet says:
  432. Bill says:
  433. J Voice says:
  434. pJJP says:
  435. pJJP says:
  436. William Saunders says:
  437. Larry B says:
  438. Larry says:
  439. Top says:
  440. Larry says:
  441. Gordon Bailey says:
  442. MasterSergeant G says:
  443. herknav says:
  444. Reynaldo Radovan says:
  445. retmil08 says:
  446. George Bodenner says:
  447. Eric says:
  448. T. J. Sheridanlll says:
  449. Marcos says:
  450. cherokee1934 says:
  451. George says:
  452. Former corpsman USN says:
  453. Wayne Carlson says:
  454. ibsteve2u says:
  455. Richard Jones says:
  456. Lazarus Long says:
  457. Leo Gerald Johnson says:
  458. Charlie Rugen says:
  459. dale says:
  460. Brenda says:
  461. Andrew O'Connor says:
  462. Sabadean says:
  463. moon Hawk-Watches says:
  464. Charles Swartout says:
  465. Robert Miner says:
  466. JFK says:
  467. JFK says:
  468. JFK says:
  469. JFK says:
  470. JFK says:
  471. dean says:
  472. Al Aguilar says:
  473. Daryl Moore says:
  474. Daryl says:
  475. Dan says:
  476. jon says:
  477. georgette says:
  478. Snoopy says:
  479. Dave Bradley says:
  480. Pat J says:
  481. Guest says:
  482. Terry Lewis says:
  483. Amy from Mass says:
  484. Former Vet says:
  485. Stephen Mitura says:
  486. William Shoemaker says:
  487. OTSFC says:
  488. Ben Hurt says:
  489. a.j. Hatcher says:
  490. Mazar Larry says:
  491. Frederick Zirin says:
  492. vegasartist says:
  493. Lt Col - USAF says:
  494. David Heil says:
  495. Paul Brundige says:
  496. winnie says:
  497. eddie cuyson says:
  498. Clyde says:
  499. JParker says:
  500. Phil Lockit says:
  501. John says:
  502. Dennis Piciullo says:
  503. Kay says:
  504. Art Frailey says:
  505. steve says:
  506. Syd says:
  507. Robert says:
  508. Maria says:
  509. Jerry says:
  510. Edward F Barff says:
  511. Roger says:
  512. Gary 1969-1970+ says:
  513. Jeremy Janson says:
  514. don hicks says:
  515. Glen Zimmerman says:
  516. gordon says:
  517. Pat S. says:
  518. Brenda says:
  519. John says:
  520. Amy_Bushatz says:
  521. Darkwing says:
  522. Bob O'Neil says:
  523. EMR says:
  524. Chris says:
  525. Chris says:
  526. Leonard says:
  527. haloguy628 says:
  528. Michael says:
  529. Bob M. says:
  530. Skip says:
  531. T. Lodge Sims says:
  532. Pat says:
  533. gwils says: