Washington -- President Obama announced today that he was designating the King Georges Landfill in Virginia as a National Cemetery to honor the remains of veterans already dumped at the landfill by the U.S. Military. The new National Cemetery will be named for President Bill Clinton.
Critics had previously excorciated the U.S. Air Force and military mortuary personnel for disposing of partial remains of service members at the landfill. President Obama stated that budget analysts at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget had ascertained that designating the landfill was far more economic than searcing millions of cubic yards of the landfill for 976 fragments from 274 personnel, which were cremated, incinerated and dumped in the landfill.
An additional 1,762 remains, which could not be DNA tested because of damage from explosions, were gathered from the battlefield and dumped in a similar manner.
The President paused from his preparation for an extended 17-day holiday vacation in Hawaii to take this dramatic step, as news reports emerged that remains of additional soldiers had been been dumped at the landfill.
"Designation of the King Georges Landfill as a National Cemetery affords us an opportunity to show the families of these distinguished deceased servicemembers and veterans everywhere precisely how much we appreciated their service. The cost savings from this creative approach to honoring the fallen will also result in millions of dollars of additional funding which can be redirected from the unnecessary violence of the Defense Department to additional green energy projects", President Obama said.
"I want service members, veterans and their families to fully appreciate just what I think about them", he added, wiping away a tear.
President Obama's speech announcing the new national cemetery borrowed heavily from Lincoln:
"We have come to dedicate a portion of that landfill, as a final resting place for those who gave their lives overseas that that our nation might be free of terrorism. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, whose remains and rubbish were dumped here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what we have done here today to show the level of our respect to our fallen heros."
In an interview after the speech, President Obama also pointed out that it was particularly fitting to dispose of military service members at a landfill, as this was also done with the remains of thousands killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.
Jo Ann Rooney, the Pentagon's acting undersecretary for personnel, had previously advised a member of Congress "It would require a massive effort and time to recall records and research individually." Secretary of Defense Panetta had subsequently ordered a review of the procedures in use by mortuary personnel at the Dover morgue.
With the designation of the King Georges Landfill as a National Cemetery, the investigation, which was to have been headed by Gen. John Abizaid, has also been brought to a speedy and economic conclusion.
Mr. Ash Howe, of Dewey, Plantum & Howe, an attorney representing one of the officers previously implicated in the improper handling of the remains explained, "My client was charged with the improper handling of remains. As can be readily seen, the remains of these distinguished soldiers were properly deposited at a national cemetery. The baseless charges of mishandling have therefore been dismissed."
Instead of disciplining those involved, each Air Force officer will now receive a promotion and decoration, each enlisted airman will receive a Presidential letter of commendation and the mortuary unit will receive a special Presidential Unit Citation for its innovative methods and creativity in disposing of the remains, which led to today's unexpected designation of the landfill as a national cemetery.
President Obama also called attention to the fact that it was singularly appropriate to name the new cemetery after President Clinton, as the first President since World War II to have no prior military service. "Bill Clinton has paved the way for future generations of Americans, such as myself, to serve as President while avoiding military service altogether. When the families and friends of our lost comrades stand at the overlook and gaze upon the sea of rubbish strewn across this site, I want them to think of President Bill Clinton and his distinguished wife, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, rather than me!"
The $47 million in cost savings from the innovative move will be used to finance a new solar powered crematoria to be built by a consortium to be headed by former NJ Governor Jon Corzine, who recently resigned as Chairman of MF Global.
President Obama smiled broadly as he declared that the administration was delighted to put this incident to rest and was looking forward to playing golf with the newly promoted Air Force officers at Schofield Army Base in Hawaii. He also cited the initiative as the sort of public-private partnership which Americans could expect in his second term. The Bill Clinton National Cemetery will be the first cemetery to be managed for the U.S. by Waste Management.