These witnesses cried out in anger and anguish. They went to Arlington’s administration office and encountered a sympathetic officer. “What would you like us to do?” he asked my friends. “We want the body exhumed so that Nicholas can be straightened out in the casket, the men who did this to him should be reprimanded, and there should be some kind of protocol change so that someone can oversee these soldier’s burials so that this can’t happen again to anyone else”, they said.
The officer was patient and kind and sympathetic, my buddy told me. But he indicated that none of that is likely to happen. He told him that there are, on average, 22 funerals a day at Arlington. This was probably an isolated case, he said. It would be too expensive to exhume the body. And there would be no plans to change their protocols.
Not long ago, there was a huge controversy that arose when an airline passenger saw a military casket loaded onto a baggage cart. She wrote a column that expressed her belief that the casket was loaded onto a cart with other luggage, an assertion the airline disputed. But at no point did the woman claim that the casket was tossed around or the body disturbed.
In this case, my friend insists that several civilian workers threw around their close friend like a rag doll. Their hearts were torn out over what they saw. They asked for, and expect, some kind of response. This isn’t the kind of person who will run to a lawyer threatening a lawsuit. He just wants to make sure his friend’s body is treated respectfully and that nothing like this can happen to anyone again.
On the phone, my friend began to cry. He called me, after all these years, because he didn’t know who else to turn to.
I don’t exactly know who to turn to, either. I certainly know some Congressmen and Senators who might be able to help. Maybe someone who reads this column can make some suggestions.
But I promised my friend that I would tell you his story.
At least that’s a start.