Photo from the Center for Negro Leagues Baseball Research
Last week I contributed an article to the South Bend Tribune about Ted Strong Jr., who recently received a burial stone thanks to the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project. In the article, I pondered why Strong, who served during World War II, didn’t receive a military burial and marker. I was told by a few sources that, basically, the family never asked.
There’s been a few comments posted to the story since it was published, and here’s an interesting one by a military chaplain named David Kriegel from the Naval Postgraduate School. It’s quite interesting and enlightening (I tried to edit it as little as possible):
As the Chaplain for ONE of our local volunteer military honor burial teams I can shed some light on why someone may not get military honors
We first are volunteers.
The local funeral homes know to contact us if the relatives and families request a military burial. The funeral director SHOULD ask if the deceased was in the military and if the family wants a military ceremony
The funeral director then contacts us and we provide a service, rifle volley taps and fold the flag.
If no one knows the deceased was a veteran, he/she dies unknown say in an accident, no one claims the body, we volunteers have no way of knowing the person was a veteran.
I do not believe the government, though required to provide honors to a veteran, has any means in place to provide it or funds to pay for it. Local volunteers from Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts and American Legion Posts volunteers. The Army, Navy and Marines, Air Force do at times send two military members to present the flag. The Marines do the best job for Marine Veterans, sometimes sending as many as six Marines to provide services, along with our volunteers.
Definitely food for thought.