Up until now, you must admit that we had a pretty darn messed up policy regarding how military deaths were honored in this country. If you died in the line of fire, you got a letter of honor from the president himself (I’d slash that with herself, but we’re just not there yet, obviously). However, if your death was ruled a suicide, your family wasn’t deemed worthy of a letter.
This disgrace is pretty obvious to most of us. For one thing, if these soldiers weren’t in combat seeing horrors that no human should ever see, experiencing terrorizing moments that most of us can’t even dream of (nor should we), they likely wouldn’t have ever committed suicide in the first place—so perhaps their families are deserving of even more than a letter, since that is what caused their deaths. (I’m not saying that soldiers who did not commit suicide are less deserving at all here—in fact, neither would be dead were it not for us meddling in things that we shouldn’t, declaring illegal wars, and generally trying to police the planet with the flesh of our families for the price of it all.)
For another thing, many soldiers’ deaths are actually ruled as suicides when, in fact, they were covered up to conceal misconduct, rape, murder, and other crimes that military leaders don’t want leaking out. While many of these were later discovered and brought to life, so many likely still have not been proven, and those soldiers remain dishonored by our government.
These cruelties, however, are changing. President Obama recently changed the policy, mandating now that ALL members of our military are to receive a letter no matter the circumstances of their death. Their ultimate sacrifices will now be honored in all cases—which is how it should have been all along, of course. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse with a “Thanks, but it’s long past due,” but it really feels like everything this president is doing qualifies—and I appreciate it, I really do! I just wish we’d have progressed much further by now…
And this might seem like a very small deed, but it could mean the world to a suffering mother, a grieving widow/widower, a child left without a mother or father. More than that, it recognizes that every person’s sacrifice is important and worthy of our honoring, not just the ones whose deaths were so-called more honorable than others.