Bill McClellan, Columnist For ST.Louis Dispatch Calls For End To Some Military Funeral Honors

We received a lot of emails and wall posts concerning the column posted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch by Bill McClellan. His column, posted yesterday, is titled “One Last Call To Service – End Military Funeral Honors”.

According to Bill, he wrote the article after he was approached by a bugler who played Taps at Military Funerals, but were replaced with an automated device because it was cheaper. But this was not the controversial part of Mr. McClellan’s article. The part that landed him a ton of ridicule was this ….

Both the federal government and the state government are broke. So why are we providing military funeral honors for all veterans? It is a nice gesture we can’t afford.

Certainly, men and women killed in combat deserve full military honors. It’s a way for the country to say, “We honor the memory of those who died in our service.” These military honors — and the thought behind them — are intended to provide some solace for the families of the fallen.


But what about the guy who spends a couple of years in the military and then gets on with his life? Bear in mind that most veterans did nothing heroic. They served, and that’s laudable, but it hardly seems necessary to provide them all with military honors after they have died. In fact, it seems generous enough to provide veterans and their spouses with free space and headstones at a national cemetery.

Why not let the veterans organizations provide military honors at the funerals of their members? If a person gets out of the Marine Corps and wants to stay connected, he can join the Marine Corps League. I’m sure the 101st Airborne has an association. In a more general vein, we have the American Legion and the VFW.


Providing military honor funerals for their members would be a boon to these organizations. Membership would presumably climb, and veterans who want the military funerals could still get them.


Everybody knows government needs to cut costs.

This is exactly how you do it. You identify things you don’t need, and you cut them. Maybe they’re nice things, but if you don’t need them, you cut them. Admittedly, this program is a small item, but as you go through the massive budget, you look for lots of small items. You try to trim big things, but that doesn’t mean you overlook little ones.

Dropping these military funeral honors would not be a slap in the face to veterans. If these honors are important to a person, he or she can join a veterans organization.


You can view the article in its entirety here – One Last Call To Service – End Military Funeral Honors

McClellan was interviewed on Fox news due to the controversy, but he stuck to his guns and believes Military Honors should be cut from the budget for those that do not die in combat. And that it should be given to local Veterans organizations to conduct the Military Honors.

Read the complete article linked above, as some of his points previous to the controversial excerpt we posted, are valid.


What are your thoughts?
33 comments on “Bill McClellan, Columnist For ST.Louis Dispatch Calls For End To Some Military Funeral Honors
  1. This is ridiculous! Who is he to say how important any veteran is and what they’ve accomplished? Did he stand up and put his life on the line to secure safety of Americans? Anytime you sign over your life to the military and are on call to arms at anytime, your life changes and so does your family’s.

    • Last I saw, the writer is a Vietnam Vet. Just saying in response to your comment. As far as his views, they may not match ours, but he has EARNED the right to say them.

  2. Mr. McClellan, you are a disgrace to this once great nation. The least we can do for our vets is to honor them in their death. It doesn’t matter how long they served, or in what capacity. If cost is the main concern there is alot of other program that should be stopped before we stop ANY benefits for our troops. Calling for the stop of military honors is a slap in the face to all military members. And would just go on to show how little our vets mean to people like you, who they served and protected. With out our troops protecting your 1st amendment rights, you would not even have rights you enjoy as a columnist.

  3. Drop his ass in a hot lz and see or have him jump at 15000 ft land and shatter his ankles all is done in the line of duty if you serve you should get honors the American Legion and the VFW doesn’t always give honors I lost my stepdad in January of 2012 he was a life member of the American Legion and the VFW they didn’t even offer to show up or even to help of all the so call Veterans organizations that he belonged to only one stepped up to the bat. In my opinion if it wasn’t for the honors that our government give their vets he wouldn’t have had any at all.To my stepdad Chris Domm 1st Marines Veitnam August 10,1949 – January 1,2012 We miss you

  4. Why honor those you volunteered to preserve your right to say what ever dumb thought that comes to mind? I don’t know why don’t you put on a uniform head down range a few times and see for your self. People don’t appreciate those of us who chose to serve anymore and its a shame. Lives are not the only sacrifice service members make missed child births, goodbyes to passing loved ones, and other major live events. They have earned every single penny that full honors entail.

  5. Why not cut the thousands of dollars spent on an office in Harlem for former President Clinton – or the 15,000 dollars allocated for Carter to send mail; or stop the tax money going to Bush for travel, leisure and staff?

  6. I think the man has a point. I’m a retiree who just got notified a few weeks ago that my TRICARE Prime eligibility is going away at the end of this fiscal year because I don’t live within a certain radius of a military treatment center. I’d rather have the TRICARE than an active-duty honor guard after I’m dead. If I want military honors at my funeral I’m perfectly fine with having my VFW or DAV brothers folding the flag or blowing on the fake bugle. And for the record, I’ve only been retired a few months – my active-duty base had manning problems trying to support the real-world missions while also providing enough bodies for the honor guard requirements. Whether you’re counting noses or nickels, it’s a pretty expensive proposition. And how many lives are we risking if we hold onto this knowing cuts are GOING to happen, maybe in areas that could get our people killed? As I wrote, maybe this guy has a point.

  7. Actually I think he has a point. Veterans Organizations could do this and the service would be just as honorable. besides as the bugler said, and as I saw at my WW2 Silver Star earned Uncles funeral, 2 Soldiers and a tape player. The VFW or American Legion can do a much more solemn service than that.

  8. Terry,

    I actually do Military Honors in my state and the VFW groups that show up are not what you want the family to remember. They often show up drunk and usually they only care about getting paid. They aren’t good at folding the flag and usually will talk while folding the flag and during the service. If they trained and put some serious effort they would be a lot better but that just isn’t the case. Out of 400 missions i’ve seen only a few where the VFW actually was squared away.

    • This is a very strange post. I have a friend who has been in the honor guard at his VFW post for years. I call on him to help me fold flags for my framing business and I can assure you he knows every little trick in the book to make the flag fold up good and tight. They keep their weapons and uniforms shipshape and do a very good service. And by the way, they don’t get paid and they don’t show up drunk. Looks to me like you just made this post up.

  9. When I was a lowly Midshipman my corps was asked to perform honor guard ceremonies at several veterans’ graveside services. The privilege of providing that service, especially as I was learning the requirements and responsibilities of leadership helped me understand sacrifice and duty. Our staff NCO provided the guidance to ensure we were proper and the event was memorable. It shouldn’t be veterans honoring veterans; if anyone it should be the recruits honoring those who served before them.

  10. Maybre if our dip shit president and his pet he calls a wife would stop going on vacations and waisting millions of dollars on ammunition, and FEMA vehicles we would have money for funerals. Our Military deserve the best of any thing we can give them, espically when they pass on.

  11. Total number of Americans on welfare 4,300,000
    Total number of Americans on food stamps 46,700,000
    Total number of Americans on unemployment insurance 5,600,000

    I got a better idea, lets have a huge marching band and a 21 gun salute maybe even do a flyover with some fighter jets I don’t care if you got out as an E2 reservist and did nothing if they need to cut they need to start with welfare people and the shitbag officials who cant do there job to form/maintain a budget.

    • Umm . . . I am one of those folks on welfare, I think. I am a 100% disabled Veteran, so, I would hope not ALL welfare goes away. I figure I have at least earned that, but, there should be better controls out for people recieving welfare who shouldn’t. Birthcontrol for single moms, condoms for single dads, drug testing for anyone on wlefare. I am cool with these, and simple Pisstests are pretty easy. I figure within 6 months of these initiatives, over a million of the above won’t be recieving checks. Oh yeah, and for the food stamps, you better be disabled or persuing employment. I am 100% P&T and IU and I DON’T get food stamps, I make do with my disability and shut up and soldier. Grrr. . . . ranting. Sorry. Put simple, moms with kids and medically hampered people get foodstamps, if there is need and they are trying. Helathy males, healthy females without kids, and families above the poverty line should NOT get those. From some of the numbers I have seen, you would save BILLIONS.

  12. This is one of those issues that pushes a number of buttons, my initial response is a fair amount of outrage and verification that “Ignorance is NOT Bliss”. With that said – I see at least Two separate issues here.

    First is a long standing reality that given the overwhelming demand for Full Honor Guards including a bugler has been Challenging. With regard to just the Bugler and the modern day “convenience” of a battery operated device – Unfortunately the grim reality is … there are not that many around. There have been a number of incidents where the most well intended young bugler has flubbed a note or two. I think we can all agree that a Memorial Service is the LAST place we would want that. To be completely honest – how many Military Installations still use a “Live Bugler” for Revile and Taps each day? I don’t want to see anyone lose a job, however if it’s a question of flawless perfection employing 21st century technology vs a Live Bugler or NO Bugler… I can see going with the device.

    Second Mr. McClellans comments about who “deserves” an Honor Guard and who doesn’t – I personally believe it takes a special type of Ignorance to make that statement. It wouldn’t appear from his article that he served any branch of the Military so frankly that should remove him from the discussion. At the risk of being Hypocritical (I never served as an Active Duty Serviceman) I still support and contribute any what possible. I have no problem with my taxes being used in this manner and like others here can offer a laundry list of cost saving cuts which should come WAY before the cancellation of Honor Guards. In addition to that, his comment regarding “free burial plots” – that’s a completely inappropriate comment. If you served, went to boot camp or basic training and then put on the uniform for even 2 years, again, no complaints here.

    The article completely overlooks the tremendous number of Veterans who die each year as Homeless thus ending up in a paupers grave or cremated with NO memorial whatsoever. That is a sad reality which totally escaped Mr. McClellan. Our Veterans deserve better.

    A West Wing episode addressed this topic and I think it was one of the finer episodes. I really appreciated “Tobbys” response to the President asking “If we start pulling strings like this, you don’t think that every homeless Vet will come out of the woodwork?” To which he replies “I can only hope Sir”. Yes indeed!

  13. AMEN to this post. Sir, you hit the nail on the head. Our service members DESERVE to be honored, especially at the time of their death and the only welfare that should be paid out is that which goes to the mentally/physically disabled and the elderly. Everyone else, get off your drug addicted butts, get some training and get a JOB to pay for all those kids you keep having that you can’t afford to pay for. We are tired of supporting your sorry butts. Our Veterans take PRIORITY………..not you.

  14. Honestly, the point made about someone serving a few years and moving on with their life, so we would begrudge them military honors? What about congressmen who serve a couple of years and get full pay for life? We are only talking about funeral honors… it isn’t THAT expensive. The amount of money we would save PALES in comparison to… oh, even the amount we are spending to reward illegal immigrants for breaking into our country. I wonder how he feels about stopping funding to pay for the disposal of the remains of illegals who die here?

  15. Each and every military service person active duty, reserve, or with an honorable discharge is worthy of Military Funeral Honors. Each and everyone was subject to being called upon to serve in harms way. Whether or not they were called upon to do so, is immaterial; they were prepared and willing to go.

  16. We all agree that the budget needs to be cut, but how come financing the education of illegal aliens or sending financial aid to a country who burned our flag on international tv on 11Sep is sacred and cannot be cut ?

    I am one of the military members who has performed funeral honors. Most of the people who do it are active duty members or local reservists, who are on duty anyway, or retirees, who are not paid. What we would save in money would be enough to buy an overpriced beer at a ball game.

  17. Mr. McClellan you are a fucking asshole, you talk about Veterans not having full military honors when they die, I am a OEF/OIF VET, that would love to sit in a conference room with you and here you say that, I guarantee you would have a change of heart. Matter a fact what would you do if you got a call telling you to pack your shit we are sending you to Afghanistan for a week, I bet you would shit yourself. You know what go fuck yourself man!!!

    • You know what Mr. Cook? As a man who spends considerable portions of my career teaching communication skills and conflict resolution – I would “ordinarily” say your “Vitriol and aggressive language” was unnecessary and inappropriate, not to mention ineffective, however…. we seem to have an “extraordinarily ignorant Jackass” suggesting that we trim just another layer of what LITTLE honor and dignity Washington Bureaucrats still extend our Veterans.

      So Rick, I commend you for your Service to our Country AND compliment your accurate and eloquent assessment of the situation!

      Mr. McClellan – I recommend you use Icy Hot as Lube, I’ll even buy you a tube, consider it a gift that will keep on giving!

  18. I posted above, and I see his point of view, somewhat. Honestly, we do need to cut funds, and some of the units in the midwest have done that by having reserve and Guard honor guard units do the funerals as Additional Duty time. I am not saying that we need to stop them in any way, just that there may be better ways to go about it that are more fiscally responsable. Let the regional commands or the state AG arrange things in their state, and have a team of soldiers on AGR duty whose job is to do funerals. That would cut some costs and yet let us be buried by our own. But, as far as saying not all deserve, I would ask him to look at the number of NON-COMBAT (HA!!) MOS injuries from the last 11 years, and then the awards that went out. By his definition, 10s of thousands of injured warriors would not be given a military funeral despite seeing combat. For more on these numbers, please look up total number of CAB’s awarded Vs Total number of injured. You will see and . . . alarming descripency.

  19. The conversation regarding Mr. McClellan’s article seems to have struck a cord in more than a handful of good responders. I thought one of the response inferred that McClellan had an active duty background and I guess I missed that if it’s true. If I did then I apologize regarding my previous comment – he does have skin in the game so he has a voice and while I disagree, I’m not going to disrespect his service.

    There have been some good comments and I think the overall theme is the recognition that “Times are Changing”. In addition to that is the stark reality that in a few years, hopefully more than “a few” there will be a huge influx of and need for personnel to provide Full Honors at Memorial Services.

    For me the point is those who served honorably and desire a Memorial with Honors then you get it… the who, what, when and budget issue is “important” but insignificant as a “Priority”. Plan ahead and deal with it, be it Reservists, Active Duty or VFW – Do it, Do it Correctly with the Honor and Dignity it deserves, Period!

    I have had the opportunity to be at Pearl Harbor for Commemoration Services on December 7th’s and at Memorial Day Services at the Presidio – San Francisco National Cemetery. On these occasions I am deeply humbled by the Reverence, Honor and Dignity displayed by the Veterans of bygone Wars. This a personal observation … but I believe the tremendous amount of “Jerking Around and Bull Sh** ROE” (just two of what would be a long list of morale killers) impacting our troops today is perhaps poisoning the pool of persons who would be more than willing to participate in future Honor Guards.

    In the end, when you’re not respected, honored and protected while serving in a War Zone – placing a greater concern on “Political and Cultural Sensitivities” than the Safety and Well-being of our troops we have a much bigger problem than just Honor Guards. The Active Duty can’t say it so I’ll lend MY voice to the situation – QUIT USING OUR SONS AND DAUGHTER AS DISPOSABLE PAWNS as you placate a culture that values ancient religious beliefs far more than their own Wives and Children, a culture that believes at the deepest level the very “Sensitivities” you profess is in fact a perfect example of the “Weakness” they detest in OUR Culture – When will “they” (POTUS, Secretary of Defense and the Administration) ever figure that out? Maybe they just don’t Care… oh wait a minute, that IS the issue!

  20. Bless you for saying this. I am crying as I read this. When my son joined the Marine Corps, he was in awe of the Corps vets who went before him. When he was in the company of a vet, he would respectfully go up to the man and thank him for his service. He would later tell me how the man shared his experiences with my son giving him insight as to what might be in store for him and he appreciated sharing info. He learned a lot from the vets and said it all had a positive impact on his life in the Corps. He ended his service after 5 years and 2 campaigns in Iraq, leaving as a Sargeant. He’s currently working toward becoming a Fireman; he’s a volunteer firefighter now. I think it would be a great idea of all branches of the service asked their newbies to serve in this capacity in their respective areas of the country. What an honor it would be to do this. I also advocate former service members performing this service after being taught how to carry out the duties. If I were allowed, I would be more than honored to participate. I’m not a military person; I’m just a 65 year old grandma….but I have the utmost respect for all those who have served. I also have contributed $ to the organization at the National Cemetery in Riverside, CA that I suppose is used to pay those who provide this invaluable service at that location. If everyone donated a few dollars a month to this effort to the National Cemetery of their choice, it would be great. A civilian’s ability to do this would be their way of thanking all those who served this Great country.

  21. LCaps, I agree with you. I think welfare should be for the mentally and physically disabled and the elderly. Single women with children should stop having babies until they can afford to care for them on their own. All able bodied welfare recipients should get a job. I’ve seen enough abuses of the welfare system to last a lifetime and that includes using the welfare money to buy drugs, etc. The welfare system does need to be revamped. I like all your ideas about drug testing. I had heard a long time ago that they were going to allow able bodied people to be on welfare for only 2 years, then they had to actively show they were trying to find work. I’m tired of seeing my tax dollars used to support women who can’t keep their legs closed. They need to go after the men who impregnated them for financial support; not expect the public to support their stupidity for getting pregnant in the first place.

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