Written by Danny L. White
RIP, the acronym that stands for Rest in Peace, can now be properly applied to several individuals that served their country with honor and dignity many years ago, thanks largely to the Missing in America Project. The project is a nine year effort to find, identify and inter the remains of veterans across the country.
Recently, the Buffalo Soldiers of America/AZ Chapter MC, teamed with the Missing In America Project (MIAP) and traveled 2200 miles from the Valley of the Sun to the rolling hollowed hills of Arlington National Cemetery. They participated in the interring of several veterans, including Buffalo Soldier Fertinand Ware, the great grand father of BSAAMC president Chaz Jackson.
“We (BSAAMC) have participated with MIAP for a number of interments in Arizona and in the Southwest, this one is extra special to my family and myself as my great grand father (Ware) was included in the honor ceremony. It means a lot to get him where he belongs (Arlington),” said Jackson. He noted that since the military was segregated, many deserving veterans of African, Mexican and Native American descent were not extended the honor of being laid to rest in Arlington.
“Since our founding in 2006, we have visited 1,857 funeral homes and found the unclaimed remains of more than 11, 986 individuals of which we were able to properly identify 2,751 service related individuals. We have gone on to inter 2,496 of them in cemeteries around the country,” shared Missing America Co-founder Fred Salanti, a Vietnam veteran himself.
“Funerals are generally regarded as sad and personal events however, the interring of veterans remains that have sat for years, and decades in some instances in funeral homes across the country because no one was their to claim them when they passed is more of a social celebration, in that they are finally being laid to rest and not just laid to rest but laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington.
“I have attended 150 burials and that might sound strange to some, but I am honored to participate in knowing that in some sense there is great honor associated with providing a proper burial (an honor burial) to those that have given their lives for our country,” said Bill Holt a volunteer with MIAP since 2008.
Missing in America Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling its mission of finding, identifying, claiming and providing a proper honor burial for service men and women remains across the country. Learn more about at the Missing in America Project online at www.miap.us