Marines Fight for Right to Honor Friends Killed in Action

killed in actionIf you think it's sad that the nation's only day dedicated to honoring fallen soldiers is overrun by beer and barbecues, get ready to get mad. The United States Marine Corps is refusing to allow its own members to honor fellow servicemen and women who were killed in action. The officers are looking for public support to fight a ban on KIA bracelets. They've got this American already.

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I confess I've never been in the military. So I'm not really clear on how the KIA bracelets can be considered unauthorized jewelry by the Corps even as Marines are allowed to wear POW/MIA bands that are of similar size. The latter pays tribute to the prisoners of war and those missing in action, which is certainly appropriate. But statistics from the Defense Technical Information Center put the number of Marines still considered MIA from the Vietnam era at 212.

By comparison, statistics from February 2010 (most recently available) put the number of Marines killed in action while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, at 109, the number KIA in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq, at 851. With troops still on the ground overseas, those numbers are likely to increase.

Their deaths are a loss to our nation, but it's safe to say that their fellow Marines will feel them perhaps as powerfully as their individual families. Among the many rewards of being a member of the United States military is a sense of camaraderie that's unmatched in almost any other job sector. They don't just work together. They protect each other. They fight for their lives together. The very essence of what they're trained to do is about teamwork, becoming one. And so a KIA bracelet marks a friend lost but also a personal experience.

These Marines are out there day to day, putting their own lives on the line. What kind of lesson is it to them to be told that what they're doing isn't worth remembering? That kind of attitude will only hurt our military.

Do you think this ban is ridiculous? Would you support a Marine who wore his KIA bracelet anyway?

 

Image via NYCMarines/Flickr

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