Sunday, July 3, 2011

Clark Veterans Cemetery, Angeles City, Philippines: What's the Big Deal?

In another blog, I wrote about an attention-getting - and incomplete - item from today's news:
Bottom line: When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, quite a lot of ash fell on a 17-acre military cemetery.

Lost in the Shuffle? Not Quite

Quite a few homes and businesses were destroyed, too. Besides earthquakes, ash, lava, oversize mudslides, and pyroclastic flows, folks on Luzon in the Philippines had sulfur dioxide and really hot steam to deal with.

It was not a good year for hundreds of thousands of people.

Back to that cemetery. Quite a few Americans and Filipino/Pinoy/whatever soldiers were buried at Clark Veterans Cemetery. The United States Government had been paying for maintenance until the nearby air base was abandoned. The base was in somewhat less than ideal condition after the 1991 eruptions, I gather.

Living There, Willing to Help, Willing to Accept Help

Despite the impression I got from the news item, folks who actually live near the cemetery are quite willing to accept help - even if it doesn't come from America's national government. Imagine!

Here's how I ended that post:
"The Lemming checked - the person who registered VFW Post 2485's URL is with Post 2485, and the registration contact information matches Post 2485's. Looks like VFW Post 2485 exists, runs the website in question, and is actually doing something about Clark Veterans Cemetery.

"So, does the Lemming think you have to give them money? That's up to you. Before you do, check them out yourselves. Just a suggestion, of course.

"Now, a few pages at VFW Post 2485's website:"
(Apathetic Lemming of the North)
(What's with writing as "the Lemming?" I explained why I use the 'editorial we' third-person for most posts in that blog in April, 2011.)

Moving on.

Who Cares About Dead Bodies?

Why should I, or anybody else, care what happens to a bunch of dead bodies?

Aside from what I'd hope are obvious reasons - the Son of the Living God cares, so I figure it's a good idea to follow His lead. Besides, it's in the Catechism:
"The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.242 Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.243 Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:244
"He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food must do likewise.245 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.246 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?247"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2447) (and see Matthew 25:31-46)
As I've said before, I can't make another person give to some charity - and wouldn't if I could. On the other hand, I don't think it hurts to suggest a direction for charity to take.

Also, I write with the authority of "some guy with a blog." I don't speak for the Church. That said, if it was a choice between either helping dig out a cemetery, or helping some of the hundreds of thousands of folks living near the cemetery who survived the eruptions, but lost homes, jobs, or fields - I'd be inclined to help the living, and let my Lord sort out whether or not that was a good decision.

Remember - the folks buried in the Clark Veterans Cemetery are already buried. A little more deeply now - which probably matters to their family and friends.

By the way, there's been some bureaucratic SNAFUs involving the Clark Veterans Cemetery, too - which nobody seems willing to take responsibility for. Does this matter? 10,000 years from now, maybe not so much.

Right now, for the family of Army Staff Sergeant Hershel Lee Covey? knowing whether he's missing in action or buried at sea (according one official record) - or - buried at Clark Veteran's Cemetery (according to a grave marker there)? I think it might make a difference.
"...Still, the Clark gravesites look forlorn compared to the American cemetery in Manila.

"A U.S. government decision to take control of the Clark cemetery could shed light on the fate of still-missing Americans, Wright said, citing the case of a U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Hershel Lee Covey, whose name is on a Clark cemetery tombstone that declared him as having died on July 17, 1942 in the Philippines.

"A check by The Associated Press showed ABMC lists Covey as 'missing in action or buried at sea.'..."
(Associated Press, via
I'm not quite as convinced as the AP seems to be, that putting bureaucrats from the same lot that scrambled the records of Sergeant Covey in the first place will necessarily straighten things out. Letting a competent private-sector researcher go through available records, and check out the grave site, seems a better approach.

But that's just my opinion.

ABMC, by the way, is the American Battle Monuments Commission ( The commission was established by Congress in 1923: and they've got a fairly good-looking website.

Catholics, Burial, and Getting a Grip

The last I heard, most Americans still bury our dead. My parents, for example, are buried. In Illinois and in North Dakota, in both cases. They'd been cremated first.

How could I, a practicing Catholic, live with this? Quite easily, once I looked up what the Church had to say. I've written about that before. (September 25, 2009)

Oh, by the way - have a fun, and safe, Fourth of July weekend. If you are in America. Otherwise, have a nice weekend: or enjoy this country's Independence Day from a distance. Your choice.

A few places to check out, online:Somewhat-related posts:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.