General on Funeral Duty: 'Grief Is the Crushing Load'

Officer reflects on sacrifice, survivors
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2008 12:33 PM CDT
A soldier canvases Arlington National Cemetery placing American flags at headstones in honor of Memorial Day, Thursday, May 22, 2008, in Arlington, Va.    (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
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(Newser) – At every funeral for a soldier killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, an Army officer attends, to represent the service and oversee the military rituals involved. Maj. Gen. William Troy has drawn funeral duty 23 times, and for Memorial Day, he writes in the Washington Post about an always-wrenching experience: "You comfort where you can and bear witness to the loss."

“I've learned that war most often claims the lives of young kids who go out on patrol day after day, night after night. They go because they are good soldiers led by good sergeants,” Troy concludes. “They kept faith with their comrades, even in the face of danger and death. That is the most humbling lesson of all.”