In the Fields the Bodies Burning

|

When Ozzy Osbourne—in the lifetime before his addled patriarch turn– howled those words 30 years ago, the Vietnam War was at its peak. Some 58,000 Americans died in the conflict and in virtually every case attempts—sometimes heroic, sometimes lasting years—were made to bring their remains home.

That may not happen in Iraq. The Pentagon is drawing up plans to cremate, presumably on or near the battlefield, casualties that result from chemical or bio weapons. The threat of contamination via remains is too great to do anything else, officials say.

They are probably right. But that cannot obscure the huge cultural shift cremation on foreign soil would represent. Ancient tales of fallen heroes carried home on their shields signify the pact struck between warriors and the society at large. That pact is still with us. Though they might be lost in battle, the fallen will be remembered and honored.

If the Bush administration is convinced that a conflict which turns the dead into weapons of the enemy is unavoidable and necessary, it needs to spend a little time and effort explaining to the American people how their traditions of mourning and remembrance are about to change.

NEXT: Cheap Joke Alert

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Help! Help!

    The Bush adminstration hasn’t spent enough time and effort explaining the perfectly obvious to me!

    Like most Americans, I am completely lost unless politicians hold my hand and carefully explain everything to me in minute detail.

    Save me Jeff Taylor!

  2. I assume the ashes will be brought back to the US.

  3. Aren’t there many U.S. WWII dead buried in memorial cemeteries in Europe?
    (“In Flanders’ Fields The Poppies Grow
    Between The Crosses Row On Row
    That Mark Our Place …” etc.)

    There should be no change whatsoever in our traditions of mourning and remembrance.

  4. Exactly. Hit&Run’s been on a roll of making some really strange complaints the last few days.

  5. Yet another crass attempt to mindlessly criticize the current administration…

    What’s next?

    “Washington, D.C.(Reuters)
    In yet another example of Bush 41’s influence on his son’s regime, it was revealed today that the President hates broccoli, JUST AS HIS FATHER DID.

    In an associated story, “Not In Our Name” revealed that “Dubya” PICKS HIS NOSE WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING!!”

  6. As a veteran, I feel that this type of imagery is overblown. No one would want to have their loved ones fallen in battle to infect and kill their comrades on the battlefield, or bring a plague home with them. If you don’t see the problem with the possibility that our warriors will be killed in this manner, then you miss the whole point of WHY Iraq’s regime needs to be disarmed in the first place!

  7. I know of a couple of companies that are designing medical isolation equipment for treating chem/bio casualties. Depending on where the treatment is occuring and what sort of medical intervention is desired, there’s a whole line of products. One of them is chem-bio safe bodybags. Capitalism at work.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.