Today My Heart is Heavy


I've had a lot of sit-down work to do today, so I've seen more news than I usually get in real time.

I am horrified. And sick. Literally sick, my stomach is clenching and burning and my eyes have been prickling.

And I'm angry.

Because apparently when it comes to burying our military dead, nothing is sacred.

For the last year, my family and I have been attending church services at the Ft. Myer Chapel, right on the edge of Arlington National Cemetery. The windows in the church are interesting, they reach from the upper part of the walls to the roof, and through them (if you're in the right pew) you can see the stretching green of our most hallowed ground. There's something sacred about worshiping in that shadow.

Arlington features prominently to military families. It's the ultimate resting place, where those who have given their lives to the service of their country spend eternity with their brothers (and sisters). It's impossible to go there and not be silenced by the enormity of what was given by those who rest there.

When the news that "mismanagement" of the cemetery was rampant began to break, my cocoon of comfort was shattered. This place that I've always seen as sacred has been losing the bodies of service- members? In one instance, only noticing that the body of one service-member was buried on top of another because the widow complained of the wrong headstone?

The widow who had just lost her husband noticed that the wrong headstone was placed in his spot. How completely, utterly, totally wrong is that?

Bodies are missing, bodies have been moved without the Next of Kin permission, and a burial urn was placed in a landfill.

If I found out that my loved one's remains had been placed in a landfill by the very people he had died protecting, my mental break would have been complete.

There are excuses being offered as explanations for this as the story is unfolding; antiquated records and the omnipresent word-parsing that refers to this problem as "mismanagement". Mismanagement is screwing up tax payments. Mismanagement is forgetting to pay the utility bill.

Mismanagement is not desecrating those who gave their lives for their country. And desecration is the only word I can think of that even comes close to what this truly is.

As a military family, we signed on to the possibility that my husband's job might demand of him the ultimate sacrifice. We signed on with the understanding that should the worst happen, he would be treated with respect and dignity and finally lay in peace.

This problem is not something that we can move forward from easily. For all the talk about fixing, finding the missing bodies (!!!!!!), and moving forward we have lost something precious: trust.

We trusted the lives of our most precious to those in charge, and they repaid us in this with horror. I'm not exactly sure how we're supposed to get past that.

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