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Opening Arguments

The honored dead

For some reason, this story didn't really grab my attention the first time I saw it

U.S. Senator Dan Coats testified today in support of a bill he’s authoring that would give the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of the Army the authority to disinter veterans buried in national cemeteries who committed a federal or state capital crime.

The Alica Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act is named after Indianapolis resident Alicia Dawn Koehl, who was shot and killed by a veteran named Michael LeShawn Anderson.

Anderson committed suicide after the shooting and was buried with military honors at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Michigan.

Coats says federal law does not allow for burial of a veteran if they have committed a federal or state capital crime but have not been allowed a trial due to death, and it was a mistake to let Anderson be buried in a national cemetery.

Yes, I get it. We don't want to dishonor our fallen heroes by sticking them with somebody dishonorable for eternity. But dead is dead, and it doesn't matter to either one of them where they are and who their companions are. Life sorts and time levels, you know?

Then I saw this story and understood the emotional impact a little more deeply:

BERLIN: The head of Hitler's Gestapo secret police and one of the organisers of the Holocaust, Heinrich Mueller, was buried in a Jewish cemetery in Berlin in 1945, a German newspaper reported Thursday.

For 68 years, the fate of "Gestapo-Mueller" has been unclear but Bild, based on documents found by a historian, said he died at the end of the war and was buried in a common grave in a Jewish cemetery in central Berlin.

It's not really about the dead but about the people left behind and how upset they are about who is burined with their loved one. Coats talked about "closure." It's a word I hate, but I understand what he's getting at.

I get buried next to Jane Fonda, and I'm coming back to haunt somebody. Hear me?