Saturday, May 25, 2013

By Memorial Day, 1947, the country was struggling with how to handle the war dead.  Read on to see the amazing -- and coordinated effort -- that followed on to return the soldiers to families who made the request.  An interesting bit of history as you pay your respects on this Memorial Day -- 66 years later. 

"When the WWII was over, all possible means was used to identify all casualties and locate all missing and the war department is quite emphatic that” all identifications are absolutely positive,” easing the fear that some families are likely to receive a body other than that of their own son or daughter.  All identified are unknown are also named.

Our honored dead lie in 201 temporary cemeteries in 57 countries scattered from” Greenland’s icy mountains to India’s coral strand”  and from the jungles of Borneo to Holland and Italy.  WWI dead  were practically all concentrated in France which is readily accessible and, in 1920, appeared to be a peaceful Europe; then only 60% of our people wanted their dead return, but now 80% of the next of kin want their WWII heroes brought the home.  Congress has appropriated funds that the fill the desires of every deceased service person’s family.  Regrettable delay and several postponements and the return of our war dead have been caused by strikes; steel, and consequent shortage of steel caskets, but the government now hopes to complete their removal within 30 months.

Our honored dead will be returned in a progressive operation depending on climate, shipping and other factors; there will be no priorities or distinctions in either time, ship or casket; those lying in Hawaii and Belgium are scheduled to come first.  All funeral ships will debark their caskets at New York or San Francisco, from which point 118 funeral cars will forward the flag draped caskets to 15 distribution centers nearest their final destination.  Each service person will  be accompanied by an honor guard of the same or higher from his own service.  The next of kin and will be advised of the progress and the exact time of arrival sufficiently in advance so that there will be ample time to make final preparations.  There are four optional burial plans as set forth in the American Legion magazine and for May, 1947. "

From "Just Thoughts of a Plain Country Woman", The Collinsville News, May 29, 1947.


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