We can learn from the French about honor
If you can, before you read this, watch the video.
It is a commemorative ceremony at Les Invalides in Paris. This occasion honors ten French soldiers killed in Afghanistan as they arrive in France on their final trip home.
Troops are turned out and stand ramrod straight to salute their fallen comrades. At one point, a young officer fights back tears as he stands at attention saluting.
You see the loved ones. They are hugging. They are crying. Some look in bewilderment, others in shock and some just stare.
One man stands alone in the courtyard, not flanked by aides or handlers, facing the frag-draped coffins. It is French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Each one of the coffins pass by him as he stands there to honor the fallen and their families.
This may not happen in all cases. I do not know. My point is it happened at least once, and it was very moving.
As of this writing, there have been 4,152 confirmed U.S. military deaths in Iraq alone.
The latest were just today.
Two Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers were killed while on patrol as a result of a terrorist attack using an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad at approximately 12:15 p.m. Sept. 4.
Not one of them has been met upon arrival as the French soldiers in the video.
This has not gone unnoticed by the troops.
Once, Stars and Stripes brought it up. For those not familiar with Stars and Stripes -
Stars and Stripes is a Department of Defense-authorized daily newspaper distributed overseas for the U.S. military community. Editorially independent of interference from outside its own editorial chain-of-command, it provides commercially available U.S. and world news and objective staff-produced stories relevant to the military community in a balanced, fair, and accurate manner. By keeping its audience informed, Stars and Stripes enhances military readiness and better enables U.S. military personnel and their families stationed overseas to exercise their responsibilities of citizenship.
— Revised DoD Directive 5122.11
As a matter of fact, the question led off the report of an exclusive interview.
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — President Bush has met hundreds of families of fallen soldiers, but he has yet to attend a servicemember’s funeral, he said Tuesday.
“Because which funeral do you go to? In my judgment, I think if I go to one I should go to all. How do you honor one person but not another?” he said.
The appropriate way to express his appreciation to the family members of fallen troops is to meet with them in private, he said.
I have no idea what is best for the families or what they want. I do not pretend to know.
I think the nation might appreciate a public showing to "express his appreciation".
I am guessing, and it only is a guess, if the troops were asking about it, they might appreciate it too.
[Honor is due for inspiration on this piece. I discovered the video as I was reading the poignant and disturbing piece about the ambush aftermath by Johnny Summerton. He often writes of French politics, but truly excels in pieces about life and culture in France (for which he gets some ribbing at times). It was a piece he labored hard over and it shows. My thanks.]