I am not qualified to add anything here, but this is not to be missed. Chris Jones, in Esquire:
My visit to the Port Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in late 2007, part of my research for the story “The Things That Carried Him,” was maybe the most haunting experience of my career. That long, low building looks vaguely like a shopping mall, but it was and is, essentially, a kind of reverse rendering plant. Thousands of bodies, many of them in pieces, pour through one door, and thousands of bodies come out another, now dressed in pressed uniforms, in caskets wrapped in flags.
Now the Washington Post has revealed that between 2003 and 2008 — so, including the time I was there, including the time that the subject of my story, Sgt. Joey Montgomery, passed through Dover — mortuary officials burned some remains and dumped the ashes into landfills.
Not surprisingly, the idea that America’s war dead had been tossed into garbage dumps has been met with anger and condemnation. There’s really no way to make the case that what happened at Dover was okay. It was not okay. It was a terrible mistake.
But I understand how that mistake was made.
There are no flawless factories. And despite the impossible work of many good people, despite the care that might have been taken however many steps along the way, despite the heavy symbolism and solemn salutes, Dover remains a factory. That might be a hard thing for people to accept, especially for the families of the men and women who have passed through there, but maybe it’s time we stopped measuring our words about these things. War leaves people dead, and it kills them in terrible ways, so that their bodies are hanging from trees or burned virtually to dust, and it’s a minor miracle that more mistakes have not been made in bringing them home. This story is just another reminder of how terrible this whole awful business is.
Read the whole thing.