September 16, 2019

All the fallen soldiers

Monday’s Op-ed Page art accompanying the commentary, “Honor dignity where it’s due,” immediately brought to mind the thousands of crosses and stars in the American military cemetery near my hometown in the Netherlands. Many of these graves were lovingly tended by grateful, local citizens. As a child, I regularly watched convoys of trucks carrying caskets of fallen American soldiers on their way home pass my house. Even as a child, I experienced a feeling of sadness.

We had met many soldiers, they visited our homes and stayed in touch with our family long after the war. In 1998, I was privileged to eulogize one of these good friends.

As Americans, we are asked to support our troops. In Bangor, they are greeted with loud cheers when they land at the airport to continue their return home. We show our patriotism publicly. However, we are not allowed to see the caskets returning at Dover Air Force Base.

Are these fallen soldiers not worthy of our combined grief and a prayer and a lump in our throats for the families who have to bury them privately? Why are we not allowed to extend our patriotism to them?

We are at war. Paying our respects to our fallen men and women, even though we do it privately in our own homes, is our patriotic right.

Paula Turcotte


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