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I'm a sixth generation funeral director. I have a grad degree in Missional Theology and a Certification in Thanatology.
And I like to read and write.
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Posts by Caleb Wilde
Wadi Al-Salaam (Arabic وادي السلام; Valley of Peace) is an Islamic cemetery, located in Shia holy city of Najaf, Iraq. It is the largest cemetery in the world. It is estimated that before the war about 200 to 250 corpses were buried a day, but in 2010 this number had gone down to under a hundred. The cemetery covers 1,485.5 acres (601.16 ha; 6.01 km2; 2.32 sq mi) and contains some 5 million bodies. Daily burials have been on going for over 1,400 years, the site is on the Tentative List of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
The cemetery holds the graves of many Muslims, and is located near the shrine of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Shia Imam and fourth Caliph. Thus, nearly all Shi’as in Iraq request that they be buried in this cemetery.
On July 1st of this year the Russian who gave the order to shot down KAL 007 died. Today, history has seemingly repeated itself.
On September 1, 1983 at approximately 6:00 p.m. local time, a Soviet MiG jet launched two air-to-air missiles at Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (KAL 007). They dentoated 50 meters behind the Boeing 747 destroying the plane’s hydraulic systems and damaging the tail. Twenty-eight minutes later the passenger jet crashed on Moneron Island in Japan killing all 269 people aboard*.
The Soviets claimed that the jet, which was on the second leg of a flight from New York to Seoul, was actually a spy plane having crossed over into Soviet territory twice before being shot down. In fact, due to a tragic pilot error, the auto-pilot was simply set incorrectly and the plane crossed into the territory without the crew’s knowledge.
The attack on KAL 007 created an international uproar, and while the Soviet Union insisted that the plane was there to spy, President Ronald Reagan referred to the attack as a “crime against humanity.” To make matters worse, the Soviets hindered U.S. search-and-rescue efforts. It wasn’t until after the fall of Communism in 1991 that full records were made available and it was determined that KAL 007 was known to be a passenger plane and was, most likely, in international airspace when missiles were launched.
The order to destroy KAL 007 was given by General Anatoly Kornukov, who was the senior officer on Sakahlin Island. General Kornukov was himself ordered to bring down the aircraft once it was determined that it was not a civilian aircraft. Gen. Kornukov replied, “What civilian? [It] has flown over Kamchatka! It [came] from the ocean without identification. I am giving the order to attack if it crosses the State border.” The pilot who fired the missiles that brought down KAL 007 later stated that he was never asked if the plane was a civilian aircraft, and even though he knew it was a Boeing 747 he never reported it.
General Kornukov was not reprimanded for his actions and it did no harm to his career. In fact, fifteen years after the tragedy General Kornukov was named the head of the Russian Air Force by then-president Boris Yeltsin. The U.S. government and survivor families were upset by the decision but General Kornukov remained in his post until he reached retirement age in 2002.
Anatoly Kornukov, who said “I will always be convinced that I gave the right order” when asked about the incident years later, died on July 1, 2014 at the age of 72.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that I believe in Green Burial for both sustainability and philosophical reasons.
One of the philosophical reasons is that it allows family and friends to touch death more intimately by taking the funeral and burial responsibility away from the “professionals” (me) and placing those responsibilities in the hands of the bereaved.
Most of us have an imaginative or experiential idea of what a “traditional” burial looks like; but few of us have a mental image of what a green burial looks like. The following eight photos are of Lorrie Otto’s green burial. Lorrie was an environmentalist in life and death. These photos are reposted with the permission of the Green Burial Council.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Reddit, it is a very active community-run social network. Users submit content and other users interact with said content.
Here is the original photo:
Here is Reddit’s beautiful response:
Mr Steffel concluded (the father): “I just wanted a picture and what I received was a lot of wonderful drawings and pictures. I couldn’t be happier.”
Today’s guest post is by Lelial Thibodeau:
10. A funeral director knows how to stretch a dollar so far beyond capacity that extreme couponers would be seething with envy.
9. Funeral directors can get any stain out of any fabric.
8. Funeral directors understand the importance of paperwork. In triplicate. And filling it out is just par for the course. Tax season doesn’t compare to corporate budgetary reviews.
7. A funeral director is meticulously clean. From an unwelcome speck of dust on the end table to a mortifying bit of grit underneath near-perfectly manicured nails (this applies to the women and the men).
6. Have you ever not introduced a current flame to your family because you’re afraid your kin’s special brand of crazy will scare off any potential mate?
A funeral director is like a “crazy person whisperer.” They have to be just to get anything done. Bring on the monster in-laws.
5. A funeral director can’t be grossed out. Ever. There is literally nothing you could show one that would churn the contents of his stomach. This applies to noxious odours as well, so snag yourself a funeral director and feel at ease passing gas whenever the urge hits. They’ve smelled worse.
A lot worse.
4. Funeral directors are masters of illusion. Need to impress your boss at a dinner party? Stage your home for sale? Conceal something from your parents until you’re ready to deal, or the issue has been resolved? A funeral director thrives under one credo: Smoke and mirrors.
3. A funeral director understands how important it is to live for today, but plan meticulously for the future.
2. A funeral director is an expert at burying secrets. Yours are not as bad as you think they are, and the funeral director’s training ensures that your skeletons not only stay in their closet, but that the closet is sealed in a concrete vault under 8 feet of dirt and the paperwork has been properly “sanitized.”
1. A funeral director knows how to give you a delicious, full-body, invigorating massage that gets your circulation working overtime and leaves you feeling, well, like you’ve risen from the dead. How did we acquire this particular skill?