Tuesday, August 21, 2012


This post may not endear me to some and so be it.    I am becoming increasing uncomfortable with the way politicians or all persuasions are associating themselves with military funerals both here and in Australia.  

Some of the debate around this has become quite vicious.   This does not honour the dead.    I prefer the more considered approach evident in this post from a soldier who has lost four of his friends serving in Afghanistan.   You can see it here

Perhaps the desire of politicians to be involved is a reaction to the lack of honour afforded those killed in the Vietnam conflict and a realisation that was wrong.   I guess I can emphasize with that.    Back then those interments were essentially a private matter limited to family and friends with the military providing a firing party.     Eight out of the 37 were not even returned to New Zealand.   They lie in graves in Malaysia (Terendak) or Singapore (Ulu Pandan).

Yes, it is right and proper that those who make the ultimate sacrifice should be honoured by their country.  They were sent into combat by their duly elected government.

But in view of the fact that, to some degree, the funeral services have become politicised I wonder whether it might be better for there to be two services ... the actual interment limited to the family and the services (being the extended military family) and a second service of remembrance some time later where our politicians and the public can pay their respects.

Whatever the decision the wishes of the immediate family should be paramount.

Reasoned contributions welcomed.    If you can't oblige don't bother.


Andrei said...

Totally with you - Funerals are not political photo opportunities nor to be used for scoring cheap political potshots.

Anonymous said...


When serving in peace time on an Aircraft Carrier we dropped about one a month over the side..

No mention in the Newspapers.

In Action .. About the same number..

No mention in the Newspapers..

That is what we were there to do..


Gunner said...

As a WWII vet I think it depends on the personal integrity of the politician. Most are egotistical publicity seekers.

homepaddock said...

I think your preference for two services is what usually happens.

There were two - a memorial one which was public and after that private ones for Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone and this is what will happen for the three who were killed on Sunday - Corporal Luke Tamatea,Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, and Private Richard Harris.

Anonymous said...

If the polys pay to transport a man into harms way and they pay to return his remains then all they are entitled to is a receipt. They have their turn at the podium elsewhere.
Matters will take their course over a long run. The longer a conflict runs and the casualties get less attention from the news organs, the less attractive they are to politicians who are essentially strangers to the families and to fellow servicemen. My father was a regular career soldier. He survived 27 years service war and peace to die of old age. The army accorded him full honours and the burial party did him proud. I almost felt like a bystander as the army looked after one of their own. Essentially it was a two family matter, service and civil.

And so it should be.


LesterPK said...

As a recently retired serviceman I can tell you its done in consultation with the family, they can have as much or as little service involvement as they wish.
My wife had strict instructions that no Labour/Green politician was to be permitted to attend mine if it was required.

Anonymous said...

Numbers cancel out this cynical soldier corpse-cuddling political behaviour.

One or two flag shrouded boxes every 6 months will bring out the pollies like flies in late spring.

But once the number trends upward from this baseline, it stops in its tracks. Quick smart it does.

Anonymous said...

I gather from the media that one of the deceased was commenting on Key going to watch softball rather than a funeral. I guess his view is known - he wants the prime minister to be there but that will, at times, be an expectaion that simply can't be met.


Marc said...

Homepaddock @ 9:40 is correct, and is I feel very respectful and moving acknowledgment of these soldiers contribution to their country.