More Spam From Fox Viewers—David Frum

Mickey Kaus calls it 'under news', and who knows how much influence it has. This showed up in my inbox today:

There has been a change in U.S. military burial protocol!This is a letter that my good friend's husband wrote todayafter his uncle's funeral yesterday. If Obama does not want his nameassociated with our military, he does not deserve to be "The President of the United States " ... [NAME REMOVED]



Today I was incensed at the conclusion of a traditionalSerbian-Orthodox funeral for my beloved 85-year-old uncle, DanielMartich, who proudly served in the US Army during the Korean conflict. During the committal service at a Pittsburgh cemetery the local military detachment performed their ritual, then folded and presented the American Flag to my aunt.

As I'm sure you have witnessed during military funerals, asoldier bends to one knee and recites a scripted message to asurviving relative that begins 'On behalf of the President of theUnited States and a grateful nation, I wish to present you with thisflag in appreciation for your husband's service ...'

However, today the dialogue was 'On behalf of the Secretary ofDefense and a grateful nation...'

After the service, I approached the soldier who presented theflag to my aunt to inquire about the change in language. His responsewas: "The White House notified all military funeral servicedetachments to immediately remove 'the President' and insert 'theSecretary of Defense'.

I couldn't believe what I heard! The soldier just smiled andsaid, "You can draw your own conclusion, Sir, but that was the order".He, too, was ashamed of what he was required to say.

Obama has taken off the gloves. My only response to thisendless cesspool of anti-American rhetoric dripping from his mouth isto borrow a phrase "with one minor change" uttered by anothertemporary Washington resident living in government housing (hiswife!): "Today for the first time in my adult life, I am ashamed ofthe current U.S. President!"

I did not serve in the military but my love of countryparallels that of people like my late uncle who bled red, white andblue. As a second generation Serbian-American who's heritage producedmany patriotic military men and women who fought for freedom both inthe United States as well as in the former Yugoslavia (most recentlyin Kosovo against the slaughter of Serbs by Muslim extremists), Iimplore you to make the American people aware of this little-known or,at least, publicly acknowledged fact.

May God Bless you and your family during these difficulttimes. Your voice of reason is a welcome change from the insanityplastered across the country by the liberal media. Keep up the greatwork and thank you for your service to our country.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

Sincerely,John G. MartichWeirton, WV


You may be wondering: Is any of this true? Short answer: No.


Maj. Monica Matoush, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, told us that no change has been ordered. “While there have been some inconsistencies at the unit level in reciting the appropriate verbiage, neither the Department of Defense nor the services have received, published or directed any recent change,” Matoush said.

She explained that each branch of the armed forces is responsible for coming up with its own protocol, including suggested statements to be made when presenting a burial flag to the next of kin. That guidance is usually made available in a manual on drills and ceremonies provided by each individual branch, she added. But “there is no [Department of Defense] standardized verbiage to accompany a flag presentation for a veteran buried with military funeral honors,” she said.

Some people very well may have witnessed a soldier bending to one knee and reciting a message that begins “on behalf of the president of the United States and a grateful nation,” as the email claims. That’s because some branches of the military do suggest that their servicemembers present the flag that way. But not all branches of the military suggest mentioning the president.

A Marine Corps order (MCO 3040.4) dated March 1, 2011, states that when presenting the flag, casualty assistance officers may say: “On behalf of the President Of the United States, the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, and a grateful Nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation of your (relationship) service to Country and Corps.” That’s an alternate suggestion from the Marine Corps manual on drills and ceremonies (paragraph 25006), which suggests a statement such as: “On behalf of the President, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Marines everywhere, please accept this flag in memory of the honorable and faithful service performed by (relationship).”

However, the manual that the Navy’s ceremonial units currently go by (NAVPERS 15555D) includes “sample wording” that says: “On behalf of a grateful nation and a proud Navy, I present this flag to you in recognition of your (relationship)’s years of honorable and faithful service to his/her country.” Cullen James, a Navy Personnel Command spokesman, said that an updated manual is in the works, but that no one has been instructed to not bring up the president. “Ceremonial teams may be using different language,” he said, but “there is no direction to not say ‘on behalf of the president.’ ”

And the Army’s field manual on drills and ceremonies (FM 3-21.5) does not specifically mention referencing the president during the presentation either. In chapter 14, section 5, paragraph (r) and chapter 14, section 6, paragraph (d), the Army field manual suggests that the officer presenting the flag say something like: “Sir/Ma’am, this flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation as an expression of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one.” The Army’s suggested wording is particularly noteworthy since, according to the email, the funeral service was for an Army veteran.

Joe Davis, director of public affairs for Veterans of Foreign Wars, said that the organization had also received the email several times. While unsure of the email’s origin, Davis said that “its message is false.”

One sad note. The misuse of the word "verbiage" (often mispronounced "verbage") to mean "wording" seems, alas, to be accelerating among public-relations professionals.