[EDITORIALS]'They're just sailors'

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[EDITORIALS]'They're just sailors'

How can we ask our military to fight for our country any more? We are angered and saddened by the fact that the nation's top military officials, including the defense minister and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not attend the funerals for Navy crewmen killed by North Korea in the sea off the west coast. What did Prime Minister Lee Han-dong contribute to the funeral when he was in charge of the military during the absence of President Kim Dae-jung, who visited Japan to attend the World Cup final match? Does South Korea's military leadership find the deaths of young sailors not worthy of their condolences? We cannot understand the attitude of our leaders to those who sacrificed their lives for the country. We find the military's explanation unconvincing; they said that by military protocol, top military and government officials do not attend a Navy funeral.

Why did the military hold the funeral so hurriedly Monday, when the search for a missing sailor was not over yet? The authorities held the funeral at a military hospital where civilians are not allowed to visit. They did not even make public the funeral schedule or offer places where people could go to pay their respects to the deceased. We cannot shake off the feeling that the government tried to reduce the scale of the funeral. Even if senior government officials were hesitant to attend the ceremony, the government should have done something so that people could pay their respects to our fallen warriors.

We also regret that President Kim, the commander in chief, did not bother to visit the bereaved families and injured soldiers before he headed to Yokohama for the World Cup final, when the South Korean military was on high alert. U.S. President George W. Bush visited the parents of Chief Warrant Officer Stan Harriman and prayed for him after the American soldier was killed during the U.S. war in Afghanistan. The United States is the world's superpower because it does its best to find the remains of its soldiers even if they died decades ago.

Still, our sailors will continue to sacrifice themselves to defend our country. They are doing their jobs for the people, not for politicians obsessed with outrageous political logic. We must give proper rewards to dedicated soldiers and sailors. We pay our condolences to those who gave their lives for our country.

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