It has now been revealed that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has not personally signed many of the letters sent to the next of kin of those killed in battle.
I am a fan of the Bush administration, supporter of the war in Iraq, and believer that the world is a better place today than it was two years ago. I am also a believer that Donald Rumsfeld’s experience with the military makes him among the most qualified men in the world to hold the job of Secretary of Defense.
But this is inexcusable.
One doesn’t die for their country so that their casket may be draped with a flag and the President and Secretary of Defense may personally sign letters. No, one dies for their country for larger purposes and for greater goods.
But to the grieving - those who loved the deceased - such military honors are symbolic that such an ultimate sacrifice does not go unnoted and will not be forgotten. Funerals are not for the dead; they are for the living. And in these cases, the living deserve - and need - the most dignified possible funerals.
These men died at the orders of Mr. Rumsfeld. The least he should do is at least take a moment to think about their existence once they have paid the highest of prices. But instead he has had an auto-pen do the deed for him.
Auto-pens are used for campaign solicitations, Christmas cards and thank you notes, not letters to the families of the dead.
After the January elections in Iraq, the President might do well to reconsider his selection for Secretary of Defense.