Less than a week after U.S war veterans were honored in Memorial Day celebrations, the discovery that a World War II veteran was buried in a shallow grave at the Florida National Cemetery in a cardboard box has sparked outrage in Congress.
The discovery was made on Saturday while workers did routine maintenance work during which they removed the veteran's headstone at the cemetery in Bushnell.
Fox News reports that the veteran, Lawrence Davis Jr., who died in 2004, had no loved ones to make proper funeral arrangements. He was buried in a shallow grave in the cardboard box in which medical examiners sent the body for burial.
According to Daily Mail, headstones go down to two feet. When maintenance workers removed Davis' headstone, his cardboard casket and remains were exposed. Daily Mail remarks that it is not known how many veterans have been buried in this manner.
Maurice Roan, Veterans Affairs manager, said: "We usually bury them in the container they come in as long as it's sealed. We make every effort to make sure they get a dignified burial." According to Roan, his department "goes out of its way to show dignity and respect" for dead veterans.
MSN Now notes that Roan's assertion that his department "goes out of its way to show dignity and respect" for dead veterans raises the question: What constitutes "dignified burial?"
MyFoxTampaBay.com reports that Florida National Cemetery holds a special service for all veterans who are buried without family members or friends to make arrangements for them. The names of the veterans are read in a church service that is held four times in a year.
But according to Fox News, Roan said that purchasing caskets for deceased veterans would require an Act of Congress.
Fox News reports that Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, are backing a new bill called The Dignified Burial of Veterans Act of 2012, that will require the Department of Veterans Affairs to review its standards for burial of veterans and would authorize it to purchase caskets or urns for veterans in national cemeteries.
According to Nelson: "We're not going to treat the veterans of this country that way. We're going to ensure there is a dignified burial."