Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Over 200 years ago, 13 sailors died in a battle near Tripoli. Their bodies were desecrated and their remains were buried in two sites in Tripoli. For some reason, it seems that the U.S. never took any actions to bring these men home to be buried according their descendant's wishes. Granted, our relations with region have been spotty over the years, but there have been periods of time when this could and should have happened.
After all of this time, however, Congress has been trying to take action. Supported by the families and other groups, such as the American Legion, some members of the House tried to add HR 1497 to the 2011 NDAA a couple of months ago (the Senate did not take any action on the issue). This amendment would have required the Secretary of Defense of take whatever steps that may be necessary to exhume and return these remains. While it didn't make it into the final NDAA, supporters are still pushing to have the bill made law.
Look, I get it. These families should have their ancestors back - I'd like for nothing more. But this is ridiculous. In case these Congressmen, families, and veterans groups didn't know, we're kind of in a non-war war with Libya at the moment. You know what's probably not going to happen any time soon? The Libyan government letting us waltz right into Tripoli to get our boys back. So why would anyone want to force the DoD to act now, without so much as a caveat such as "as soon as the political situation stabilizes" or some such thing. A veterans' group should be especially sensitive to the idea that such a law may require putting soldiers into harms way over something that has been mishandled for 200 years. And there's all the issue of the current regime getting wind of this business and using it as a political football.
So yeah, let's get these men home, but let's do it when the time is right. That time is not now.
(And residents of Somers Point, NJ - you might want to tell your mayor that Germany hasn't always been our ally (check the video on the American Legion site around the 1:30 mark). Which is why we have a couple of cemeteries there to begin with.)