U.S. Representative Bart Stupak, congressman from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, successfully included in recently-passed legislation the “Fallen Service Member Respectful Return Act,” which now requires the Department of Defense to deliver the bodies of fallen military personnel to the military or civilian airport nearest to the final burial location chosen by the family.
The legislation changes current Pentagon policy, which allows the military to deliver a deceased soldier’s body to a point which may be hundreds of miles from the grieving family, leaving it to the family to figure out the remaining delivery logistics.
To his credit, Stupak voted against the Iraq war resolution in 2002, and has supported improved benefits and health care for the troops. Yet he’s a Democrat Leadership Committee congressman who concedes the “need” for an open-ended, “benchmarked” but continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq.
And Stupak recently voted with the overwhelming majority in the House in favor of the “Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007,” which would designate Iran’s 140,000-strong revolutionary guard troops as “terrorists” and which clearly signals President Cheney that Congressional Democrats will not stand in the way of a new, illegal war.
Stupak’s Grateful Dead Body Parts Delivered To Your Door Reform Act epitomizes the lame, compromised position of DLC Democrats. They won’t act to stop the war, prosecute its architects, or impeach its deities, but they remain inordinately willing to improve the quality of the grieving experience for the survivors of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
TERRY LODGE is a lawyer in Toledo, Ohio