Yesterday I posted about the temptation to joke about the things we learn in Funeral Service. Funeral Students/ Funeral Directors are human; We learn, laugh, cry, rant, love, get mad and suck it up. Eventually we conduct very serious and difficult tasks while being human like everyone else on the planet. Why? Because we care and want to make a difference in life and the communities we live in.
Today there was a story about the Wisconsin National Guard suspending a full-time funeral honor guard member who posted a photo which shows a team smiling around a flag-draped casket with the caption, “We put the FUN in funeral.”
Another photo causing a stir on the web shows a selfie of a soldier with a folded flag in the background with the caption, “It’s so damn cold out. Why have a funeral outside? Somebody’s getting a jacked up flag.”
Military funerals are serious events , those involved with them professionally should not make fun of them in a social setting of any kind.I understand how the general public feels outrage over these images; However, I can also easily understand how these images happened.
This is a bonded team, and therefore, they have a comfort level like a family. The first picture seems like a moment they just let their hair down, not really realizing the larger ramifications of taking the image and then sharing it over the net. The larger problem, however, is the caption, Those words . . . ugh! No, No, and No! Not from a military funeral honor guard member. If the word “Honor” is in your job title, need I say more? When you are a professional, as easy or accessible as things are, YOU just can’t. Honestly, you shouldn’t even want to, but we are human and mistakes happen.
The second picture, again, I can see how this could easily happen. I’m pretty sure this soldier is from an age group that’s no stranger to taking selfless for every possible moment known to man. I bet it didn’t even occur to her there might, or could be a problem. However, the caption, oh the caption!!! Soooo not right.
We live in a time when anything can, and usually is photographed. Technology has grown faster than our intellectual understanding to comprehend what we capture and share within a split second around the world with others. In this case, however, the larger problem is her written attitude that’s attached to her images. Sadly this soldier didn’t seem to really convey an understanding towards the importance of her responsibility as an honor guard member. How do I know? Because if she had, this wouldn’t have even happened to begin with. Do I think she deserves to lose her position? Overall, no. I think she made large, but correctable mistakes that have the potential to make her a stronger funeral honor guard member in the future. I hope she will search her heart and decide if this is something she truly wants, or can do. I hope in the future, if families and the military allow her, she will rise to the professional level of honor she was always expected to provide in her highly respected position.