Bury the Dead, Unless ... ?

As one brother recovers in a prison hospital from wounds he received briefly eluding capture, the remains of the other Tsarnaev brother linger in limbo. His now quasi- and unhappily famous uncle Ruslan Tsami is trying to arrange his burial with the assistance of Peter Stefan, a funeral home director in Worcester, Massachusetts. Stefan has the body ready for burial, but he has no where to take it. Cemeteries in three states now have refused to accept Tamerlan’s body (and frankly who can blame them when at the least his cemetery plot could become a target for vandals, a curiosity for the morbid, or a shrine for the deluded).

Now the city manager of Cambridge, Mass., Robert Healey has made it clear that Tamerlan’s final resting spot will not be in the American city he called home, if any American city can be so described. "I have determined that it is not in the best interest of peace within the city to execute a cemetery deed for a plot within the Cambridge Cemetery for the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev," Healey said in a statement on May 5.

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One can only feel a mixture of pity and admiration for Stefan, the funeral director at Graham, Putnum & Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester, Mass., who is apparently enduring fierce criticism for accepting the body of the Boston marathon bomber and preparing it for a traditional Islamic burial. His neighbors can’t be pleased and his business is likely to be suffer but “we take an oath to do this,” Stefan said. “Can I pick and choose? No. Can I separate the sins from the sinners? No.

“We are burying a dead body. That’s what we do.”

We should laud this poor gentleman, who no doubt may be facing financial disruption or worse because he has honored his professional oath and remind Massachusetts cemetery directors that the corporal works of mercy remain in effect, despite the elevated national terror alert.

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Mary Sweeney
5 years ago
It's "Islamic" not "Islmic". I find your reflection anemic at best. Contrast it with "Play Ball" written 60+ years ago cited on this same website (http://www.americamagazine.org/issue/play-ball). The last sentence of paragraph 1 is more than timely: "This would have allowed the malcontents to build up strength—for intolerance thrives on acquiescence—to the point where a major demonstration could have been made, with all its attendant ill-feeling and confusion of issues." We have had nothing but acquiescence to mob rule by religious and civic leaders. Neither Mr. Stefan nor Mr. Tsarmi are deserving of any of the scorn or derision that have come their way, but no public voices have been raised, have they? Instead the vitriol of vengeance is in full sway. It appears that we have forgotten all about Easter Weekend and how the mob ruled, and the cries of "Crucify Him" and how Joseph of Arimathea stepped forward to provide a burial place. Had there been some quiet diplomacy and a way to simply shut out the media in the same way that multiple towns were shut down in the search effort, some progress might have been made and a resolution reached. We need to return to that "state of grace" that the President spoke of : "You showed us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what's good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion... We'll choose friendship. We'll choose love. Because Scripture teaches us God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline." Boston Strong? Not so much... Shameful.
Kevin Clarke
5 years ago
You had me at "anemic."
JOHN GRONDELSKI
5 years ago
There seem to be two options: 1. A clandestine burial somewhere in America. "Burying the dead" does not necessarily mean wherever, whenever, or with whatever visibility you want. 2. How about resting in the soil of Chechnya, where he apparently felt comfortable enough to spend many months and practice the techniques of terrorism?
Mary Sweeney
5 years ago
:-) So... do a "rewrite". Life is full of opportunities. I love the image of God at the carwash. We are each the lost coin that God goes in search of, seeking to turn us into "cash". http://youtu.be/Qi2DypBHyUg
Kevin Clarke
5 years ago

Never fear. I'll be ranting about something else in this space ere long.

The family finally found a burial plot at an "undislcosed location," BTW. 

Marie Rehbein
5 years ago
Maybe there are people who are against showing the corpse of the terrorist any mercy and are making a fuss, but most people probably don't care too much. He wasn't a citizen of this country, so why shouldn't he be buried in his homeland? Where was Timothy McVeigh buried? In his homeland.
Peter Schwimer
5 years ago
What would Jesus have done, I wonder?

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