End Military Funeral Honors for Veterans?

Bill McClellan calls for ending military funeral honors for most veterans.

military-funeral

Longtime St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan calls for ending military funeral honors for most veterans.

Who is eligible for military honors at a funeral? According to the program’s website, virtually all veterans who have received an honorable discharge are eligible. A veteran does not have to be buried at a national cemetery to receive military honors. The honors teams travel to private cemeteries.

Since the program began in Missouri in 1999, more than 114,000 veterans have received these honors. The program has been averaging 729 funerals a month.

According to the program’s website, it is funded by the federal government and the Missouri National Guard Trust Fund.

Both the federal government and the state government are broke. So why are we providing military funeral honors for all veterans? It is a nice gesture we can’t afford.

Certainly, men and women killed in combat deserve full military honors. It’s a way for the country to say, “We honor the memory of those who died in our service.” These military honors — and the thought behind them — are intended to provide some solace for the families of the fallen.

But what about the guy who spends a couple of years in the military and then gets on with his life? 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. In fact, it seems generous enough to provide veterans and their spouses with free space and headstones at a national cemetery.

[…]

Everybody knows government needs to cut costs.

This is exactly how you do it. You identify things you don’t need, and you cut them. Maybe they’re nice things, but if you don’t need them, you cut them. Admittedly, this program is a small item, but as you go through the massive budget, you look for lots of small items. You try to trim big things, but that doesn’t mean you overlook little ones.

Dropping these military funeral honors would not be a slap in the face to veterans. If these honors are important to a person, he or she can join a veterans organization.

We owe a lot to our veterans. They might not have been heroes, but they served. I hope they join with me in considering this a final chance to serve their country. Let’s play taps for an unnecessary program.

Not surprisingly, quite a few people are upset by this suggestion.

Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft is exasperated that McClellan “‘has been spewing his liberal worldview in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for decades now” but apparently thinks the phrase “Most veterans did nothing heroic” is self-refuting, especially if you put it in boldface, which he does.

Over at The Blaze, Jason Howerton seems to vaguely disagree with McClellan but basically just rewrites his column as if it were a reported piece.

The proprietor of Weazel Zippers opines, “When it comes to crap like welfare liberals don’t care what the cost is, but when it comes to honoring vets suddenly they’re deficit hawks. It’s absolutely pathetic.” He describes the columnist in unflattering scatological terms and encourages readers to email.

Commenters follow suit, calling McClellan names, questioning his manhood and patriotism, and wondering what this liberal so-and-so ever sacrificed. They apparently don’t have The Google. Bill McClellan is a Marine Corps veteran. He was drafted, which means his service began before 1973, but I haven’t been able to figure out whether he went to Vietnam. He started at the Post-Dispatch in 1980 after four years at two universities, not quite graduating from either; spending some time as a crime reporter in Phoenix; and presumably at least two years in the Corps, so it’s possible. [UPDATE: I’m reliably informed that he did in fact serve in Vietnam, in a logistical capacity.] Either way, assuming he was honorably discharged–and I do–he’s talking about a benefit to which he himself is entitled. (McClellan was likely thinking of himself when he wrote “the guy who spends a couple of years in the military and then gets on with his life.”)

Additionally, while I was heretofore unaware of his fine career, just a cursory search finds several touching columns about veterans and the life-long impact of combat. See, for example, “In a dark conflict, area Marine shines.” Or “Marine’s brief time with Marine company brings long-lasting bond.’ Or “Veteran winning battle with stress.” Or “Vietnam veteran still wages war for health.” Or “Nun helps build life for Vietnam’s lost.”

Not that his biography or general attitude about veterans has any bearing on the merits of his argument, mind you. But it’s nonetheless worth knowing where the man’s coming from. And it’s certainly not a place of disdain for those who served. Quite to the contrary, in fact.

Conservative radio host Dana Loesch considers McClellan a friend. She respectfully disagrees with his suggestion. Or, at least, she figures we should get rid of several programs that sound absurd on their face first. “Let’s cut that waste, see what’s left over, and then talk about military funerals. I think our men and women in uniform sacrifice enough already. They deserve the honor.”

That’s pretty much my instinct as well, although I think McClellan makes a pretty reasonable case. Indeed, left out of my already generous excerpt above is his call for those who want to be buried with military honors to join local or national veterans’ associations to continue fellowship with those who’ve served and who provide such honors.

Further, character assassination and vitriol aside, I’m bemused by the tenor of the counter-arguments. McClellan is making an exceedingly conservative point: Honoring people who spent a couple of years in the military several decades ago with a flag, bugler, and honor guard is a nice thing to do. But, if we’re not willing to jack up taxes to raise money, we’ve got to cut out things that are merely nice to do, spending our limited funds on those things that are essential. That he’s attacked as a dirty pinko commie liberal for saying that is, well, odd.

As to the phrase that seems to be drawing all the venom —  ”Most veterans did nothing heroic” — McClellan happens to be right. That includes most of us who answered the call to war. Even those of us in the combat arms. Honorable service? Sure. Sacrifice? No doubt. Courageous? Perhaps. But heroes? That’s a word that gets thrown around too much. Most of us, thankfully, never wound up in a position to be heroes.  Alvin York. Audie Murphy. Jim Stockdale. Dakota Meyer. Those guys are heroes. So are John McCain, Jeremiah Denton, and Daniel Inouye. I’ll even throw in Jim Webb and John Kerry and Bob Dole.

We’re at a point where we’re cutting services for the truly needy. We’re talking seriously about cutting back on healthcare for the elderly and for those who spent twenty years in the military. Maybe we ought to talk about whether we need to send a bugler and an honor guard to bury a guy who spent two years peeling potatoes at Fort Dix several decades ago.

UPDATE: I’ll be taping a segment on this later today for “The O’Reilly Factor” with guest host Laura Ingraham.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Alas, they managed to book McClellan himself so gave me the boot.  Annoying but understandable.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tyrell says:

    I will defer to those who have served to give their opinions.

  2. rodney dill says:

    All this outrage (maybe outrage is a little strong) for a program that didn’t begin until 1999?
    In the seventies I was pulled out of high school any number of times to play taps at funeral’s for veterans. Usually at the behest of a local American Legion post. Isn’t that honoring the veterans? Though, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that anyone who served had done nothing heroic. We’d do better to spend this money on care for the still living veterans if nothing else.

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that McClellan himself doesn’t actually believe his own article and that merely (1) it’s intentionally a rabble rousing piece designed to bring some attention to a dying newspaper and presumably to a dying career, (2) a somewhat clever bait-and-switch designed as a jab at conservative fiscal hawks. Call it a hunch. Reading between the lines it appears to me as a relatively-sly concerned trolling pitch. The flip side of the coin of a conservative needling a liberal by suggesting that we should spend more government money . . . . assisting poor white churches.

    In any event, whether fact, fiction or motivated by an ulterior purpose there is a larger slate of issues embodied in that article. On what should the government be spending our tax dollars and since we are in fact broke to where to take the cost-cutting axe?

    You cut the self-defeating items first and in greater percentages. And this is where the left unplugs its collective brain. Handing out largesse to the able bodied is self-defeating; it creates a vicious cycle. Those are the first programs that should be slashed. AFDC for the able-bodied. Medicaid for the young and able-bodied. Subsidizing unemployment (either directly or indirectly, by financing useless degrees) also is self-defeating. That too should be on the chopping block. Federal unemployment benefits. Sallie Mae. Pell Grants. Stunting private-sector hiring is self-defeating. Those items need to be cut. NLRB. DOL. OSHA. EEOC. SEC. EPA. HUD. The truly frivolous items need to be cut and pronto. Subsidizing art houses, operas and public TV. The lesser priorities for spending cuts are items which have no self-defeating mechanism and which are not frivolous. Last on the list to be cut should be items that are needed for the interests of national preservation, e.g., core national defense, national public infrastructure, borders and ports, intelligence, critical medical research for public health.

    It’s about common sense being applied to common cents. But that ain’t too common.

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    Both the federal government and the state government are broke.

    Well, the problem is with McClellan’s statement above — he’s completely wrong. In fact, the federal government is not broke at all. It literally prints its own money, and can never actually “go broke.” People, companies, countries around the world are lining up to lend the federal government money at essentially 0% interest.

    Since the very premise of his article is nonsense, the rest can be safely ignored.

  5. Scott says:

    As a 20 year veteran and certainly no hero, I totally understand McClellan point of view. I suspect the majority of veterans agree with him. And I wonder about the military backgrounds of those who are the most outraged.

    The expansion of benefits for veterans in the last 10-15 years has been enormous and out of control. Not just at the federal level but also at the state level. Tax benefits (property tax exemptions, e.g.), education benefits (reduced or free tuition not just for the veteran but for his or her children), the list is enormous.

    As always with all groups there is great enthusiasm for the benefits but not so much for the taxes to pay for them.

  6. I have a sneaking suspicion that many of those using said scatological references didn’t serve, either. I’ll leave it at that.

  7. John Peabody says:

    Ditto to what Scott said. Simply serving does not make one a hero. Anyone who has been in uniform (I’m a 26-year veteran) knows that there were plenty of undesirables that were anything but. Honor, pride, duty? Yes! A hero? A hero is rare.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    but I haven’t been able to figure out whether he went to Vietnam.

    Yes James, he is a Vietnam vet. and when he speaks of “most vets don’t do anything heroic” he is talking of himself. His tour in Vietnam was spent loading and unloading various trucks and helicopters etc. He has always been forthright and honest about his service.

  9. Tyrell says:

    @rodney dill: My uncle had a military funeral at Arlington in the ’60’s. Being very young at the time, I did not know who paid for this.
    The government is still paying out Civil War benefits. The government is still sending millions to Egypt. The government is still granting millions for studies like “why children fall off tricycles”

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that McClellan himself doesn’t actually believe his own article and that merely (1) it’s intentionally a rabble rousing piece designed to bring some attention

    Trust me, you don’t have a clue about what you are talking about. I have been reading for the better part of 3 decades and he does not troll with vet issues. He gets conservative goats in other ways on a regular basis.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Speaking as the son of a WW II and Korean War vet, I very much appreciated the military funeral.

  12. Well, somehow we still have enough money to study why lesbians get fat.

    I know that here in Tennessee, the 101st Airborne Division stopped providing honor guards a long time ago, except for active duty descedents. AFAIK, having conducted a number of funerals where honors were tended, the honor guard (no firing squad) consists of volunteers from the guard our sometimes from other v vets.

  13. rodney dill says:

    @Tyrell: It is a little silly to look at something like this on its own. You need to look at all potentially unneeded spending, prioritize, and cut or trim back based on those priorities. I suspect that given such a list I would find a lot of things I would cut back before I’d feel the need to cut back on honoring our military vets.

  14. N.D says:

    As a Retired Military Vet and the Spouse of a Retired Military Vet I’d like to add my thoughts to this article. Yes many people who joined never went to war, never served on the battlefield, never heard a shot fired at them, but they joined and they were ready if called upon to go to these battlefields, to put their lifes on the line for their country. I served 27 years, I volunteered for Iraq twice and Afganistan three times, but I never went, someone else volunteered before me. Would I have gone, yes, did I want to go No, but that uniform I wore said I was ready and willing to risk my life for my country. I think just that alone is worth a little respect and pangentry at the end of your life. I want a military funeral, I want my family to know that I cared enough for this country to defend her with my life. Is that too much to ask.

  15. Unsympathetic says:

    @rodney dill:

    Name one of those programs and show proof. Not in one week, not in two months: Now.

    If you don’t have a specific program to cut, either admit that “we’re broke” is yet another Faux News lying point — or support the column.

    It’s all well and good to support “elimination of waste” — but it’s incredibly hard to do in practice. Have you noticed how many representatives run on that platform and then when they get to Washington accomplish.. jack? That’s because the low-hanging fruit [the stuff that’s actually easy to cut] is long gone.

    This is where we are. There is no more low-hanging fruit. Don’t believe me? Prove it.

  16. JKB says:

    Has he similarly written a piece calling for the halt of spending tax payer’s dollars on ugly art for our decaying urban cores? Surely, we can cut supporting poor (talent, not economic) artists by blighting our communities with their poor (quality) monstrosities?

    And since art is in the eye of the beholder, we’ll do it democratically. A referendum and if majority believe the art is ugly, the people who approved the spending of tax dollars on it get punched in the face for a month by any taxpayer.

  17. rodney dill says:

    @Unsympathetic: I think you’re way off on understanding what I’m talking about.

    I didn’t purport that we’re broke. I also didn’t suggest that I have a list of all the programs that may be identified as unneeded. I did say that given such a list I probably could find things that I would prioritize lower than military funerals.

    I agree is hard to eliminate waste. One person’s waste is another’s prized project, but its completely insane to address one project at a time, individually out of the context of the rest. I also don’t think that just trimming waste on a bunch smaller projects would solve all our problems.

    I never purported that there was any low-hanging fruit. If think you can prove I said otherwise then I invite you to go ahead, otherwise your rant is pretty much wasted on me.

  18. JKB says:

    @Unsympathetic: but it’s incredibly hard to do in practice.

    No it is not. You just have to ask hard questions most program managers can’t answer for some reason. When they come in to pitch for their budget increase, go back to slide 2 and ask them to explain what they are spending their current budget on. Even if you don’t cut it at first, making the program managers dance on the hot plate will cause them to go back and find their own waste, fraud and abuse. Bureaucrats fear accountability, it is their Kryptonite. I’ve seen it done, it was delightful but sadly after a few cycles the current politicals become part of the problem. Or the reformer gets forced out for tipping over to many rice bowls.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    I guess Tsar thinks it’s perfectly fine that we get arsenic or lead in our food. Or maggots….perfectly fine…..If you want to see what happens to a country without something like the EPA, witness China.

    You willing to have dead pigs floating in your drinking water, Tsar?

  20. Elen James says:

    This makes absolute sense, but I can understand the range of feelings. I am a veteran. Yet very few people in my day to day life know that about me. I am a wife, mom to 9 and 10 year old boys, volunteer and fundraiser. My husband and I both served our country proudly but “have moved on with our lives”. It would be very bizarre to die tomorrow and think an honor guard would show up.
    Too many years ago when James was my professor, I would show him a copy of my orders that I was being deployed to be excused from classes, but even my fellow students did not know I was in the military. It was my job plain and simple, one I did proudly and with honor, but I was no hero.

    It is worthy of the question of wether this is a necessary expense in its current form or should be restricted to those who die in active service and other veterans of merit (i.e. the heroes.)

  21. Kenny says:

    Or you could make this an individual appeal to “fiscal patriotism.”

    Apparently a veteran can turn down these services. My grandfather, an ETO veteran who got hit at the Bulge, did. It was just a part of the man, I think. He grew up during the Great War, got wounded as a medic in the second one and died in the days after 9/11. That’s some kind of life on the farm.

    All he asked for was someone from the VFW to come out and present his wife with the flag.

  22. wr says:

    I guess there is absolutely nothing in this country that is more important than making sure billionaires get more tax cuts.

    “The government is broke.” My ass. The right wing has decided that all collective and community action for the betterment of society is evil, and the only thing that matters is making rich people richer. And James joins right in.

    For shame.

  23. @N.D:
    I want a military funeral, I want my family to know that I cared enough for this country to defend her with my life. Is that too much to ask.

    Judging from the people who clicked the down thumb, the answer to your question is, “yes, it is too much to ask.”

    And when I pointed out that the federal government says it has not the money to provide honor guards but it still has the money to find out why lesbians get fat, that was down clicked, too.

    Which simply speaks volumes about the mainline readers of this site, now.

  24. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Another item from my “How My Twig Was Bent File”.

    Back in the summer of last ’68, I was doing my military service down in Texas, which, after the Bronx, is the place I’d most like to be from. For several months, I was assigned to the base’s funeral detail. We would provide pallbearers and a rifle squad for those requesting military funerals in the local area.

    Military-wise, it wasn’t bad duty. On the days when we weren’t scheduled for a funeral, we would spend several hours practicing our “drill & ceremonies” and a couple more squaring away our uniforms and equipment. On funeral days, we would head out as early as necessary on a 44-passenger bus, often in civilian clothes or else fatigues with our first-class uniforms and equipment in tow. Often we would change into our duty uniforms at the funeral home, once in the casket display room, or on the bus itself.

    It being Texas and the Viet Nam war being in full swing, we often had several funerals a week to perform. There was a certain spectrum from the World War graduates through the Viet Nam casualties. The former might involve a local veterans’ group and an afterward BBQ or such. The latter were somewhat more emotionally raw as most of us were facing our own deployments in the near future.

    Two funerals of the latter sort have stayed with me through the years. The first was of a young Private First Class who had been MIA for several months before his remains were recovered. I was on the pallbearer squad that day and when we went to lift the casket, it almost flew up in the air. There was so little of the young soldier left that we totally overestimated the weight we were lifting and almost looked decidedly unprofessional.

    The other was that of a Negro Specialist 4th Class. I was in the rifle squad that day. In the rendering of military honors, there is a momentary pause between the end of the (21-gun) rifle salute and the beginning of the playing of “Taps”. It is a moment of profound silence in most cases. During that moment, the young soldier’s mother gave out a yowl from the depths of her grief that so startled me that I almost dropped the rifle out of my hands. That yowl echoes within me still.

    I’ll readily admit that, as a result of my experiences, I became much imbued with a sense of duty and respect to and for our fallen.

  25. James Joyner says:

    @11B40: Indeed. I don’t think anyone is suggesting ending honors for those killed in the line of duty. Nor would I end them for retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, and others who gave well above the normal measure.

  26. wr says:

    @Donald Sensing: Wait, you mean that you were spreading BS about how terrible it is that the government spends money on scientific studies that you deliberately mischaracterize, and people downvoted you for it? That is shameful. We must all work harder at pretending to be outraged at tiny government expenditures, or we’ll never have the strength to beggar the poor and sick so we can further reduce taxes on billionaires. On behalf of all of us here, I sincerely apologize for your ill-treatment.

  27. @rodney dill:

    All this outrage (maybe outrage is a little strong) for a program that didn’t begin until 1999?
    In the seventies I was pulled out of high school any number of times to play taps at funeral’s for veterans. Usually at the behest of a local American Legion post. Isn’t that honoring the veterans?

    So, there were volunteers and charities performing a task that was superseded by the federal government and (mostly) conservative commentators (not including the ones on this blog) don’t want to go back to volunteers and charities doing the task?

    Somewhere, irony just killed itself.

  28. @wr:
    You’re so full of crap your eyes are brown. I mischaracterized nothing. The government really is spending millions of dollars to find out why (a) lesbians have a higher obesity rate than homosexual men, and (b) why lesbians have a higher rate of alcohol abuse. Go look it up.

    Then there is:

    One: “National Science Foundation awarded the University of Iowa a grant for $876,752 to study whether there is any benefit to sex among New Zealand mud snails… ”

    Two: The US government spent “$3.8 Million to ‘Decrease Human-Elephant Conflict’,” of which there is, of course, absolutely none in the United States.

    Oh, I know, these are absolutely critical studies that are really worth far more than the paltry amount spent on them,. Certainly they are far more valuable than funding the SNAP program for the indigent, right? Far more important than funding employment training or vocational rehab programs for the unemployed or disabled, right?

    Well, yes or no?

    Put up or shut up.

  29. anjin-san says:

    It’s interesting to listen to the screeching from conservatives about cuts. Apparently, cutting budgets is fine, as long as it does not affect them, things that are important to them, or the place they live. Just listen to GOP Congressional reps on cuts at regional airports.

    You wanted cuts, you are going to get them. Be careful what you wish for.

  30. matt bernius says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    The government really is spending millions of dollars to find out why (a) lesbians have a higher obesity rate than homosexual men, and (b) why lesbians have a higher rate of alcohol abuse. Go look it up.

    There are two grants, awarded over multiple years to study the relationship between sexual orientation and obesity. It total, administered over five years, they are approximately $1.5 million, which accounts to approximately $300K a year. That is completely keeping in line with a small NIH grant.

    Further, approximately $700K of the 1.5 was awarded in 2011, prior to sequestration discussions. So you are playing a little fast and loose with the facts in this case. (source)

    Likewise, to reach the total of millions on spending to research the relationship of lesbians and alcohol abuse, counting had to begin in the mid 2000’s, with the largest grant begin awarded in 2009.

    What I find interesting about the attention you paid to the Wizbang article on the “Millions spent funding research on elephant human relations research” is the buried lead in that story (which Wizbang buried as well). You are up in arms about the combined $3.8 million awarded in 2011/12 to study the topic. What you had not comment about was the $200 million for a reality TV show in India (to promote the US Cotton industry) or the $30 million that went to help Pakistani Mango farmers (who supply US retailers).

    Instead you opt to go after research dollars (which, btw, would far smaller if the institutions in question didn’t skim up to 60% of the funds, off the top, for administrative purposes).

  31. Matt says:

    I spent four months on limited duty following a little lightning incident, and I traveled the east coast as part of a funeral honor guard. We did everything from a WWII vet with a chest-full of medals, to a private who got drunk and stepped in front if a truck. The one thing that was always the same, was the gratitude from the families. And honestly, the ceremony was performed with the same solemnity and pride, regardless of the circumstance.

    This sounds like the perfect opportunity for a public/private partnership. A foundation to fund the costs currently incurred. I just think that this is a good tradition. Not everyone will be a ‘hero’, whatever your definition is, but they served honorably, whether they were unloading trucks or storming Normandy.

    And yes, there is plenty of idiotic spending that could be cut before this, rather minor, expenditure. Wool and mohair subsidies, anyone?

  32. 11B40 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Greetings, James Joyner:

    Your reply to my comment is certainly not beyond my pale. It’s just that in these days, when “salami-slicing” has been raised to an art form, it’s hard to separate the emotional distractions
    from the unmentioned strategic goals.

    I would think that the actual number of requests for military funerals is rather low, certainly percentage-wise of those who have served. So, it seems to me, that this is a rather peculiar place to start to resolve trillions of dollars of debt, as opposed to say the Department of Energy which has somewhat of history of finding dry holes into which put millions of dollars.

    So, my perhaps too implicit message boils down to this. Military funerals have meaning to those who request them and those for whom they are requested had a legitimate expectation of getting them. Changing, or attempting to change, contracts after the fact has never been my cup of tea. Thus, I can’t help but be concerned that there is more going on here then meets the public eye. In the midst of an administration in the midst of both spendthrift hysteria and the hollowing out of our military, I find this a peculiar place to look to save a farthing among the pounds.

  33. wr says:

    @Donald Sensing: I refuse to play your idiot right-wing game of “look, I can make research sound stupid –so we shouldn’t spend on that instead of a program liberals like!” The fact is we can easily do both, as long as we stop letting billionaires set our tax codes for their own benefit, and maybe stop shovelling money at unnecessary weapons systems that even the military doesn’t want.

    I’m sorry that science gives you a sad. I’m sorry if you can’t understand that even some research that right-wingers can make sound silly has real value. I’m sorry that you are so blinded by the desire to cut taxes for rich people that you hate the idea of spending on the public good.

    Basically, as Jean Arthur said in “Easy Money,” “Hey, there’s no reason to get mad just because you’re stupid.”

    Oh, any my eyes are a lovely shade of blue, thank youl

  34. anjin-san says:

    @ Donald Sensing

    why lesbians have a higher rate of alcohol abuse.

    I’m curious – are you as outraged over corporate welfare for fabulously profitable oil companies or “small government” conservative Michelle Bachmann georging at the public trough as you are over this research?

  35. steve says:

    8 year vet. I agree with limiting the funerals. Limit them to soldiers who have died or been wounded in combat. Let the VFW take over the others.

    Steve

  36. James Joyner says:

    @11B40: Apparently, it’s a pretty large number as the WWII and Korea generation dies off. But, as noted in the original piece, I’m inclined to agree with Loesch that this is well down the priority list of what gets cut first. But we need to either cut a whole hell of a lot of “nice-to-have” programs or figure out how to raise more cash.

  37. Dave says:

    Going after NIH grants has always been a huge appeal to the right. First they can highlight supposed waste by finding the most ridiculous sounding studies, without ever reading the grants. Secondly it also serves the anti-science, anti-intellectual side of the base. The lesbian study was mentioned on Rush a couple weeks ago so it has become the research waste du jour. As for this program not serving myself I have no strong opinion either way. It does seem like an odd program to call out for spending, in the same way the right goes after NPR and Public television spending. A drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things to me. If the left had the balls and the right wanted to actually shrink the deficit, they would revoke 501(c) 3 tax status from PAC’s and other supposed “charities” and from the churches preaching politics from the pulpit. It would also be nice if they actually went after the banks who you know launder billions in drug money, instead of giving them a slap on the wrist. All in all between tax exemptions and corporate welfare, this seems like an odd place to start culling public spending.

  38. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “But we need to either cut a whole hell of a lot of “nice-to-have” programs or figure out how to raise more cash. ”

    Gosh… if there were only a way for the government to bring in more money… at a time when corporate taxes are at an all time low… when taxes on the rich are at their lowest ebb since the Gilded Age… if only we could find some revenue to run this country… if only….

  39. anjin-san says:

    @ wr

    if only….

    It’s a mystery…

  40. Cooper Beverley-Meise says:

    You have GOT TO BE JOKING! Have you no pride in your Country and those who served and fought for the FREEDOMS we enjoy today????? With all of the WASTE by those in office, well, anyone suggesting we cut this, which is the LEAST we can do for those brave men and women who have and do serve….is nothing but UNPATRIOTIC. This article makes me SICK!

  41. Barb says:

    So how much is the government going to save by doing this?
    Let me guess, a few dollars per funeral.
    Mr. Joyner should back up his suggestion with some information.
    This is total nonsense.

  42. anjin-san says:

    Mr. Joyner should back up his suggestion with some information.

    Perhaps you can prove your claim it will only save a few dollars per funeral…

  43. Gajewski says:

    A funeral costs somewhere between 6 and 10 thousand dollars, depending on the (for lack of a better word) “frills”. Let’s divide that into 500 thousand dollars. (By the way, that is the rough amount Joe Biden spent on his hotel room for ONE night while staying in Paris recently.) That would come up to roughly 50 funerals. What would you rather your tax money be spent on, a ONE NIGHT stay in Paris, or a heart-felt thank-you to our vets? Regardless if they saw combat or not, they gave freely of themselves to defend you and yours. We as a country can not do enough to say THANK YOU.

  44. anjin-san says:

    @ Gajewski

    Perhaps you can direct us to some of the posts you no doubt made decrying travel expensed in the Bush White House.

    Should be a cinch…

  45. anjin-san says:

    @ Gajewski

    It’s worth noting that Biden has a son who served in Iraq.

    Perhaps you could tell us about your service…

  46. anjin-san says:

    the LEAST we can do for those brave men and women who have and do serve

    Actually, the LEAST we can do is make sure that wounded vets (both mental and physical wounds) have adequate care, and that VA facilities are properly funded.

  47. rudderpedals says:

    @Cooper Beverley-Meise:

    3 5 4 4 3

    4.8

    Not too shabby

  48. Anjin-San says:

    Gajewski,

    How about some proof that Biden spent 500k on a hotel room for a single night?

  49. Bob says:

    I’d gladly pay more tax or mark a checkoff box on my tax return to pay for the continuation of the military honors.

    We buried my uncle a couple years ago and the Marines provided the Honor Guard. Although the Corps was not his career, he spent WWII in the Pacific. His unit was loaded on board a ship ready to invade Japan when the war ended.

    He always said there is no better looking soldier the a Marine in Dress Blues. I agree and was moved by the 3 Marines in Dress Blues who served as the Honor Guard at his services.

  50. Christine Lund says:

    There’d be no budget problem in America if the wealthy would pay their fair share. During all these wars, the wealthy become wealthier and they don’t share well. It isn’t in durable goods. We don’t bring leftovers home. It’s money wasted on tools of death and mayhem. Ladies, when are we going to rein in these militaristic men that waste whole generations of young people? Our youngest, the bravest, always go first. It’s ‘Catch 22’. You may survive but will your kids? Why use the world’s resources, our children most of all, to kill each other? Brave and courageous is wonderful but why is it necessary? But brave and courageous is anyone who has ever served this country. I’m sorry Bill couldn’t have worked in a more dynamic position. I’ll bet there’s plenty of men and women that could tell you stories that could curl your hair. Yes, they earned the honor. If they feel they didn’t, I’m sure they’d allow you to do without, if that was your desire. Just like abortion, it’s up the person. I go to Jefferson Barracks Cemetery and visit relatives and friends. It’s beautiful. Don’t be so quick to deny our military their due. Reading the names and dates on the gravestones gives you an understanding of our history that books can’t teach. So many unknown soldiers, buried far from home.

  51. Hmm. My father didn’t receive a military funeral, but he did receive a nice marker. He was a cook at the tail end of the Korean War. A bugler would have been excessive, but it was nice to see the military recognize his service, however modest it was.

  52. sam says:

    @11B40:

    During that moment, the young soldier’s mother gave out a yowl from the depths of her grief that so startled me that I almost dropped the rifle out of my hands. That yowl echoes within me still

    My brother, 30-year Marine, told me a similar story about his experience. Somewhere between his three tours in Nam, he served as NCO-in-Charge of Marine burial details operating out of Camp Lejeune. One detail took him into this small town in, I think, Mississippi. It was the funeral of a young black Marine. The whole family was there, crying and moaning. The mother was beside herself. “My baby, my baby. I want to see my baby,” she kept saying. My brother couldn’t dissuade her. “Ma’am you don’t want to open this coffin.” But nothing he could say to her made any difference. He didn’t really know what was inside the coffin, but he suspected it wasn’t good. But she insisted. They opened the coffin, and inside was full set of dress blues laid out with a neatly wrapped bundle about the size of a loaf of bread resting on top of the blues. That’s all they were able to recover of the young man’s body. The mother went absolutely crazy with grief. My brother told me that nothing he ever saw in combat shook him as much as that.

    I’m a veteran. I never served in combat. I would be appalled, if I was able to be appalled, if a military guard of honor showed up at my funeral. I would be appalled if people like my brother and that young Marine, and all who went in harm’s way for their country’s sake, were not afforded such a guard of honor.

  53. Stacy says:

    As a County VSO and life time member of the VFW I am not sure where there is any money spent by the federal government or state government (other than travel costs for the active duty) for military funeral honors. I have been to every single funeral for a veteran in my county for the last 3 years as part of the funeral honors for the VFW and AL. As far as I know, we have not received any money at all. 2 Active duty personnel from the veterans service actually fold the flag and present it to the family and we have a VFW member that plays taps, live not recorded, and my husband and I along with several other members are on the military rifle salute. We would all be offended if we were offered money to do this. We do this to honor a fallen comrade.