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My Stupid Newspaper | WWII Shotgun Salute?

Feb 25, 2008

My Stupid Local Newspaper made a gaffe again today. There was a front page article talking about the local last man standing club.

The last man standing club is a concept that as far as I know dates back to WWI. The survivors of a war form a club essentially waiting to see which of them will live the longest. Along the way, they make a promise to honor each of their former brothers (future iterations will likely include sisters).

So my newspaper today has a nice write up talking about a local Last Man Standing club.

They then have a quote from one of the members, who is talking about how he and others in the club attend the funerals of those that pass away. They often play taps and then there is usually a rifle squad that fires off 3 rounds per person.

The rifle squad is often times 3 to 7 people. Since it is a rifle and since this is the military we are talking about and not a group of local squirrel hunters, they use . . . rifles.

My stupid newspaper decided to interject an explanation for its readers within the quote of one of the last man standing members, who mentions that he collects the shells and sometimes gives these to the relatives.

My stupid newspaper incorrectly stated that the types of shells given are 'shotgun' shells.

Now this may seem rather inconsequential, but for a veteran its kind of ignorant. (You might recall from Full Metal Jacket the distinctions made between rifle's and guns. This is a little different but not that different.)

First it is extremely unlikely that any recently deceased Veteran would be honored with a Shotgun salute. Shotguns are extremely loud first off, much louder than the rifle shells (blanks) used at funerals. Firing off 3 shotguns at the same time would probably shake/scare most people off their chairs and make them even more upset than they already are. The firing of rifles and taps can be extremely unsettling for many people.

You are jolted by the shots and then taps has a way of ripping at your heart strings. Its a hard thing (as is the military) but it does help people come to term with their emotions, and for some people this extra kick is almost necessary to kick start the healing process.

The procession is ended as the funeral squad lifts the flag off the coffin, folds it and hands it to the widow or next of kin.

By hinting that shotgun shells are used and given to the widow or next of kin, its kind of insulting. To put it into a newspaper analogy, it would be like a newspaper person serving a paper for decades, passing away and then the paper doing a write up about that person using crayons.

Now, I do not intend to glamorize war nor death and I do not intend to dismiss it either. They are both a reality of life. I served in military myself during the first Gulf War and I have served on funeral details for about 50 different funerals.

I would prefer that we in the US would not have to provide this type of service if our country could live peacefully. But we cannot. Americans are historically a warring people. We have not learned to live peacefully with our neighbors, with ourselves, nor with the rest of the world, and sometimes the peoples and nations around us are no better.

That means that people will continually be called, requested, forced and or drafted to serve our nation. I am completely against conscription and the draft, but when 'we the people' do not do our duty and keep politicians in check by voting, by staying in touch with our representatives or even going out and protesting their actions when they screw up or fail to represent us. Things can often get out of hand at home and around the world. That means that some of us will have to go out and put our lives on the line for the rest of us.

When that happens those soldiers, men and women, will go into harms way, they will often times be injured, or killed. Having earned it from the rest of our society, they then deserve a little respect.

Unfortunately, my newspaper once again couldn't quite take the time to delve into the facts and reality enough to offer that respect, even when they seemed to be paying lip service to it.

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WooHoo ed by Unknown at 2:20 PM  

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