Friday, June 11, 2010

Uneasy Lie the Dead

Apparently, lying at rest among America's honored dead is no easy feat. An internal investigation at Arlington National Cemetery found all sorts of foolishness:
more than 100 unmarked graves, scores of grave sites with headstones that are not recorded on cemetery maps, and at least four burial urns that had been unearthed and dumped in an area where excess grave dirt is kept.
All this a result of what investigators called a dysfunctional and chaotic management system riven with conflict and antiquated record keeping.

The very end of the story mentions that burials at Arlington have skyrocketed since 1990 but staff at the cemetery has dropped by 30 percent. Suddenly, Arlington National Cemetery--a national icon-- sounds like just another military bureaucracy that simply cannot keep up with the pace of America's wars but still has time for personal infighting.

Just getting buried in Arlington National Cemetery can be even worse, though. Funerals must be scheduled, which can mean up to a month delay before interment. The honored dead must be put in storage. In April 2009 the Washington Post ran an expose' of the very poor storage practices and facilities--leaking caskets, unpleasant smells and moldy remains--that left many families, shall we say, distressed.

As for me, cremate and scatter. Maybe the body handlers won't mix up the packages.

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