A Matter of Respect


Before my nephew Ryan passed away, he asked his wife Sarah not to leave him there in Maryland where Walter Reed hospital is located. . So she stayed behind until the casket was ready to be shipped. Of course he wanted to be home in California where he was born. In 2003 when they shipped a soldier’s body home, they put them in the cargo hold of commercial planes.

I don’t know the name of the airline who provided the space for Ryan, but whichever it was, also gave a first class seat to Sarah so she could ride home with Ryan. When the plane taxied in and before the passengers had a chance to get up, the pilot made an announcement over the intercom.

As a matter of respect, he said something to the effect of: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we ask for your patience in leaving the plane this afternoon. We have been carrying a very special passenger with us today. It is the body of Sgt. Ryan Young who was killed in Iraq. His wife Sarah has been with us up here. We ask a moment of silence as Sgt. Young’s body is removed from the plane.”

Sarah said she was so proud because there was no bitching about having to wait to get off. And when she was in the offloading area where luggage is taken, she said as Ryan’s casket rolled past the employees, they all stood at attention or hands over hearts.

As a matter of respect, the U.S.Army sends a high-ranking officer along with each soldier’s body and by tradition, except when the casket is in the cargo hold, he never lets it out of his site. It’s a respectful escort to make sure nothing and no one desecrates the soldier’s remains. That officer is only relieved of that duty when the casket is in the ground.

As a matter of respect, country and western music star Clint Black took it upon himself to find out if any widows of fallen soldiers were not doing well financially and helped them with their monthly bills. Ryan’s wife Sarah was one of them. And I don’t think Clint Black ever advertised this fact. God bless you Clint Black.  That is someone who truly wants to help rather than just get the good P.R. from something like that. Hats off to Clint Black.

As a matter of respect, the National Football League stepped in and paid off Ryan and Sarah’s car for them. There is another example of Americans helping the families of those who had the guts to go do what many others wouldn’t do.

As a matter of respect, normally I would not think of airing out dirty family laundry but I feel it’s germane to this essay. You may wonder why Sarah was not able to meet the bills and car payments etc. That is because when Ryan entered the military, he was not married and thus his life insurance beneficiary was his mother. Ryan had not been married long when he was killed, and had not changed the beneficiary to Sarah. So when Ryan died, his mother got the initial $250,000.00. Then the president got a bill passed which added $125,000.00 to that number bringing the total to $375,000.00. As Ryan's blood family we knew he wanted the money to go to Sarah but the legalities were such that since he did not change his beneficiary before he deployed, it stays as it originally was. The officials with the US Army agreed with us that Sarah should get the money but their hands were tied. When Ryan still lived in his mother's house with her husband, they treated Ryan very poorly to put it nicely. There isn't a chance in hell that he wanted that money to go to them.

The first inkling that she was not going to do the right thing happened when Sarah asked her if she wanted to help with the arrangements for Ryan’s funeral. Ryan’s mother said no and that Sarah should do it all. Sarah did do it all and all of the bills for the funeral came to her as a result.

As a matter of disrespect, Ryan’s mother did not contribute one single penny then and never gave Sarah a penny towards helping her with any bills or the car payment or anything. The last I heard, Ryan’s mother and her husband put in a swimming pool at their house and took the whole family and hangers on, on a cruise. God only knows or cares what happened to the rest of the money. To them it was winning the Ryan lottery.  All I know is none of it went to Sarah. That is why others were helping her out.

As a matter of respect that is all I will say about that situation. Ryan was given so much respect by his fellow Iron Rangers, his superiors, family and friends, it's only right that we give him the same respect and more since he has passed.

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This Page Last Updated: 15 August, 2015
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