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Marble Headstones For Our National Hero's

     Serena Altschul, traveled to the mountains in Danby, Vermont to see where the marble used in many of our National Cemeteries is found to commemorate our country's war dead. I found this a moving video and thought the rest of you would also enjoy it. It's not just a headstone, it's special, and it should make us all proud. Watch the video by following the link below.


The History Of The Dog Tag


     The Civil War provided the first recorded incident of American soldiers making an effort to ensure that their identities would be known, should they die on the battlefield. Their methods were varied, and all were taken on a soldier's own initiative.  In 1863, prior to the battle of Mine's Run in northern Virginia, General Meade's troops wrote their names and unit designations on paper tags and pinned them to their clothing.  Many soldiers took great care to mark all their personal belongings. Some troops fashioned their own "ID" (identification) tags out of pieces of wood, boring a hole in one end so that they could be worn on a string around the neck.

       The commercial sector saw the demand for an identification method and provided products. Harper's Weekly Magazine advertised "Soldier's Pins" which could be mail ordered. Made of silver or gold, these pins were inscribed with an individual's name and unit designation. Private vendors who followed troops also offered ornate identification disks for sale just prior to battles.  Still, despite the fact that fear of being listed among the unknowns was a real concern among the rank and file, no reference to an official issue of identification tags by the Federal Government exists. (42% of the Civil War dead remain unidentified.)


     The first official advocacy of issuing identification tags took place in 1899. Chaplain Charles C. Pierce, who was tasked to establish the Quartermaster Office of Identification in the Philippines, recommended inclusion of an "identity disc" in the combat field kit as the answer to the need for standard identification. The Army Regulations of 1913 made identification tags mandatory, and by 1917, all combat soldiers wore aluminum discs on chains around their necks. 

     By World War II, the circular disc was replaced by the oblong shape familiar to us today, generally referred to as "dog tags." Since then, some myths have arisen in connection with the purpose of the identification tags. One of the more common myths involves the reason for the notch on the tag issued between 1941 and the early 1970's.  Battlefield rumor held that the notched end of the tag was placed between the front teeth of battlefield casualties to hold the jaws in place.

     No official record of American soldiers being issued these instructions exists; the only purpose of "the notch" was to hold the blank tag in place on the embossing machine. The machine used at this time doesn't require a notch to hold he blank in place, hence, today's tags are smooth on all sides.

     Thee sole purpose of the identification tag is stated by its designation. Tags found around the neck of a casualty, and only those tags found around the neck, stay with the remains at all times tags found any place besides around the neck are made note of in the Record of Personal Effects of Deceased Personnel, and placed in an effects bag.  They are not removed unless there is a need to temporarily inter the remains. If there is only one tag present, another is made to match the first. If the remains are unidentified, two tags marked "unidentified" are made. One tag is interred with the individual, the other placed on a wire ring in the sequence of the temporary cemetery plot. This enables Graves Registration personnel to make positive identification of remains during disinterment procedures; when the remains are disinterred, the tag on the wire ring is removed and placed with the matching tag around the neck.
The Department of the Army has developed and is currently testing a new tag, which will hold 80% of a soldier's medical and dental data on a microchip.  Known as the Individually Carried Record, it is not intended to replace the present tag, but rather to augment it as part of the "paperless battlefield" concept.

     This development is in keeping with the Army's dedication to positively identify each and every fallen soldier. The yellow TacMedCS being tested by the Marines, uses radio frequency technology, electronics and global-positioning systems to pin-point wounded.


     The Armed Forces make every possible effort to eradicate discrepancies and remove doubts about casualties, not least those doubts that families may hold concerning the demise of their loved ones. In recent years, a near perfect record of identifying service members who have died in the line of duty has been achieved, a far cry from the 58% rate of identification that stood during the Civil War. The ID tag has, been and remains a major part of the reason for this record.  Are you wearing your ID tags today?  Too many military personnel, particularly those who are part of the peacetime force stationed in CON.U.S. (Continental United States), forget how vital those tags can be, forget that as soldiers they are always on the line. Wearing your ID tags is one of the easiest actions you can make towards achieving total readiness, so take those tags out of your dresser and put them around your neck. Remember -the simple information contained on that small aluminum tag can speak for you if you can't speak for yourself;  it could mean the difference between a positive identification and an uncertain future for those who survive you, should your identity be, "Known Only to God?"

We've come a long way, from tying pieces of wood around our necks.!


This article was written by CPT. Richard W. Wooley, who was Chief  of Individual Training. Graves Registration Department (now the Mortuary Affairs Center), U.S. Army Quartermaster School, Fort Lee, Virginia.

This article was sent to me by Jim Eckman

Children of Foreign Diplomats Enjoy U.S. ‘Super Citizen’ Status


By Elizabeth Robichaux Brown,

EXCLUSIVE: The Founding Fathers and drafters of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution may just turn over in their graves if they read a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies that says foreign diplomats are obtaining U.S. birth certificates and Social Security numbers for their newborn children – effectively becoming U.S. citizens. On top of their new status in the world, these children carry an additional perk that most Americans do not have – diplomatic immunity.

Just like their parents, most are immune to criminal jurisdiction of the United States, creating what CIS describes as a “super citizen.” “Children of diplomats who receive U.S. birth certificates and SSNs have greater rights and protections than the average U.S. citizen,” says Jon Feere, the author of the report called “Birthright Citizenship for Children of Foreign Diplomats?”

A State Department spokesman told that under the law, children of foreign diplomats are entitled to these records. “Persons born in the United States, including a child of foreign diplomats, are legally entitled to an official birth record issued by the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the state in which the child is born.” The spokesman added, “whether a child born in the United States to a foreign diplomat acquires U.S. citizenship at birth pursuant to the 14th Amendment requires a fact-based analysis.”

“If the child enjoys full diplomatic privileges and immunities, the child would not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth.” However, the CIS report highlights how easily a foreign diplomat’s child can indeed go from U.S. guest – to U.S. citizen. How Could This Happen?

Most states have adopted the same birth certificate request form established by the National Center for Health Statistics’ Division of Vital Statistics. Hospitals present this form to parents requesting a birth certificate. A foreign diplomat or his wife, who has just delivered a child at a U.S. hospital, would get this same form. On the form, there is a section that asks for each parents’ Social Security number, but parents can skip that detail if they do not have one or have forgotten it, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Foreign diplomats would not have that nine-digit number, so they would more than likely leave it blank. Also included, a slot asking if parents would like a Social Security number for their child. It’s a simple “yes” or “no” answer.

To read more, visit:


AP Exclusive: US ignores vet graves in Philippines

Sun Jul 3, 5:12 AM EDT


                                                           In this July 1, 2011 photo, a private guard walks along soil-covered graves.


CLARK, Philippines — Walking along the rows of tombstones here offers a glimpse of the wars America has fought and the men and women who waged them. But most of the grave markers have been half-buried for 20 years, and there is little hope that the volcanic ash obscuring names, dates and epitaphs will be cleared any time soon.

Clark Veterans Cemetery was consigned to oblivion in 1991, when Mount Pinatubo's gigantic eruption forced the U.S. to abandon the sprawling air base surrounding it. Retired U.S. soldiers, Marines and sailors volunteer to keep watch, relying on donations to try to maintain the grounds, but they lament that they're helplessly short on funds to fix things, and that Washington is unwilling to help. "It's the veterans' cemetery that America forgot," Vietnam War veteran and ex-Navy officer Robert Chesko said. As America marks Independence Day, the U.S. veterans who collect funds to care for the cemetery renewed their calls for Washington to fund and take charge of the work.

Workers at the cemetery north of Manila recently dug to fully expose a gravestone for an Army sergeant who died in World War II in the Philippines. They discovered his wife's name engraved under his and a long-hidden tribute: "Daughter, sister, wife and mother of veterans." It's impossible to say what else remains hidden at the 17-acre (seven-hectare) cemetery. It holds the remains of 8,600 people, including 2,200 American veterans and nearly 700 allied Philippine Scouts who saw battle in conflicts from the early 1900s to the resistance against brutal Japanese occupation troops in WWII. Clark's dead also include military dependents, civilians who worked for the U.S. wartime government and at least 2,139 mostly unidentified soldiers whose marble tombstones are labeled "Unknown."

"People celebrate on the Fourth of July but they forgot the 8,600 who helped make that freedom happen," said former Navy Capt. Dennis Wright, who saw action in Vietnam and is now a business executive. "We're trying to get the U.S. government to assume responsibility for maintaining the cemetery so we can get it up to standards ... not on nickels and dimes and donations and gifts," said retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Larry Heilhecker, who served as cemetery caretaker for five years until last month. Clark was a U.S. base for nearly a century and was once the largest American Air Force installation off the U.S. mainland. It served as a key staging area for U.S. forces during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The Clark cemetery, which can accommodate at least 12,000 remains, was developed between 1947 and 1950, when it was used to collect the remains and tombstones from four U.S. military cemeteries as American officials sorted out their dead from WWII and previous wars. An American cemetery at the then-Fort McKinley in Manila became the exclusive burial ground for all Americans and allied Philippine Scouts who were killed in WWII combat. The 152-acre (61-hectare) Manila cemetery collected 17,202 dead, the largest number of American casualties interred in one place from the last world war. Now closed to burials, the stunningly landscaped Manila cemetery became one of 24 American burial grounds outside the U.S. mainland. Nearly 125,000 Americans who perished in WWI and WWII and the Mexican War are interred in those U.S.-funded overseas cemeteries, regarded as among the most beautiful war memorials in the world. The overseas burial sites are administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission, or ABMC.

The dead at Clark are not limited to World War II casualties — they date as far back as 1900. Also unlike the Manila cemetery, it continues to accept burials. One U.S. veteran who lives in the area had his son buried here after he was killed in Iraq in 2004. But Clark is not administered by the ABMC. The Air Force managed Clark cemetery from 1947 to 1991, when it abruptly left after nearby Pinatubo roared back to life from a 500-year slumber. Even before the eruption, negotiations with the Philippine government for a new U.S. military lease on Clark had bogged down after nearly a century of presence in the Philippines, according to the veterans. Philippine authorities failed to look after the cemetery. In 1994, American veterans were shocked to find it had become an ash-covered jungle of weeds, overgrown grass and debris. Half of its old steel fence had been looted.

Today, a pair of U.S. and Philippine flags flutter in the wind over the graves. A recently restored marble obelisk, pockmarked by World War II gun and artillery fire, venerates the unknown dead. A small sign at a new steel gate ushers in visitors with a tribute to the war dead: "Served with honor." All the improvements came from donations. Wright's company spent $90,000 to construct a new concrete and steel fence and a parking lot and make other improvements. An old veteran, confined to a nursing home in Florida, sent one dollar in a touching act, Heilhecker said. Ret. U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Littleton John Fortune has been giving small amounts from his pension for the upkeep of the cemetery, where many of his friends lay. He said the worst day in his life came in 2004 when his son, a young Army sergeant, was killed by a bomb in Iraq. He buried his son at Clark and continues to help the cemetery.

Still, the Clark gravesites look forlorn compared to the American cemetery in Manila. A U.S. government decision to take control of the Clark cemetery could shed light on the fate of still-missing Americans, Wright said, citing the case of a U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Hershel Lee Covey, whose name is on a Clark cemetery tombstone that declared him as having died on July 17, 1942 in the Philippines. A check by The Associated Press showed ABMC lists Covey as "missing in action or buried at sea." Dashing the hopes of the American veterans, the ABMC and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which manages 131 U.S. mainland cemeteries through an agency, both said Clark was outside their mandate.

"Whether the U.S. government should take on responsibility for maintaining such a foreign, private cemetery is a veterans' benefits issue outside the scope of our authority," ABMC public affairs director Michael Conley told the AP in an e-mailed reply to questions. U.S. Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas, who has visited the Clark cemetery twice, praised the American veterans for looking after the burial grounds, which he said volunteer embassy staff and visiting U.S. sailors have helped clean up. But he said the U.S. Congress only appropriates funds for official cemeteries overseas through the ABMC, Thomas said. Philippine officials have authorized an American veterans' group led by Chesko to manage the Clark cemetery up to 2030, and have said they are open to allowing any U.S. agency to manage it.

"Without them, we wouldn't have this freedom now," said Felipe Antonio Remollo, president of the state-run Clark Development Corp., which oversees the former base, now an industrial and commercial hub. Once developed and possibly turned into a war memorial, the cemetery could draw in tourists, Remollo said. Clark's elderly veterans, some of whom become teary-eyed when reminiscing days with fallen comrades, worry about who will look after the cemetery as their ranks dwindle. Two passed away and were buried last week. "We're getting old. We can feel it in our bones, you know, in mind and everything," said 65-year-old Chesko. He has wondered whether fallen soldiers' sacrifices still matter to young Americans. "What bothers me sometimes is, will they still remember?" Chesko said.

The new cemetery caretaker, John Gilbert, said the veterans were not trying to pass the responsibility. "We're proud to do it, don't get me wrong, but we do not have the resources to do it," said Gilbert. They would have no choice if Washington ignores their pleas, he said. "We are not ready to let this cemetery be taken back by the jungle," he said. "If we have to do it ourselves, we will do it." "We don't leave our brothers behind."

Associated Press writer Kimberly Hefling in Washington contributed to this report.


Sent to me by Jim Eckman


Every Friday at the Pentagon

Mornings at the Pentagon


McClatchy Newspapers


Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is war. Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and facing months or years in military hospitals. Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for America Website

"It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here. 

"This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army' hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew. "Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area. "The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares. "10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, and hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway. 

"A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class. "Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden ... Yet. 

"Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

"Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer. "11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. My hands hurt. Please! Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30.. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts. "They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

"There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son's behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past. "These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.

Did you know that? I didn't. Don't look for the media to tell you!

Sent to me by Mike Wibert

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