“The big lie,” that’s what staff at a military base in Hawaii call “arrival ceremonies,” which are meant to honor the remains of American soldiers returning from World War II, Vietnam and Korea.
Why do some of the military and civilian staff who put on these “arrival ceremonies” call them “the big lie”?
Well, that’s because the human remains in those flag-draped coffins being carried out of “static” cargo planes by honor guards aren’t arriving back to the U.S. from old battlefields for the first time, rather they’ve been here for months, in many cases sitting in labs waiting for forensic analysis, a NBC News report revealed.
The Pentagon told NBC News in a statement that these ceremonies, which Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) started conducting in September 2006 are “symbolic in nature,” but understood how some may have come to believe that the remains were literally arriving for the first time.
“Based on how media announcements and ceremony remarks are currently written, it is understandable how these ‘arrival’ ceremonies might be misinterpreted, leading one to believe the ceremonies are ‘dignified transfer ceremonies,’ which they are not,” said Department of Defense spokesperson, Navy Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost.
For example, the official script for the ceremonies calls on the emcee to thank the audience for “welcoming them home,” and tells those in attendance that, “After removal from the aircraft, the remains will be taken to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory. There, JPAC scientists will begin the identification process.”
Derrick-Frost also admitted that the planes used in the ceremonies are often nonoperational, towed in from nearby maintenance hangers.