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I recently was placed in a position to take care of the cremated remains of a Vietnam veteran, one Jack Medley. Not by choice, but by fate. Some of you may have known Jack. He apparently attempted suicide from the Douglas Bridge several times. A friend, Rick Shaw, was often contacted and helped him home. Jack told Rick the only reason he didn't jump was because he feared cold water. Jack had no address to go to and no address to be returned.
Jack's remains were placed in a USPS mail receptacle. A carrier brought Jack to my place of work, the U.S. Postal Service. My supervisor left him on her desk for four days. I retrieved Jack from her on my day off after she told me they would send him to "dead letters" if no one claimed him. The Juneau Police Department would and has done nothing except threaten to place him in their "to be destroyed" bin (and/or accuse me of doing something inappropriate with his remains).
I could not bear the thought of a veteran being disposed of the way USPS or JPD was determining. So I took Jack Medley's remains along with some flowers and his old friend, Rick, up Eaglecrest Road. I hiked up a small hill next to the road and spread his remains as the sunlight filtered through the blueberry twigs. Rick played "Amazing Grace" on his harmonica. It was a beautiful spring day in Juneau.
I hope there are people with some sense of compassion left in this town, people who still care for those who have fought in defense of this great country. It seems like many have forgotten 9-11 and the terrorism we still face.
The next time you take a drive up Eaglecrest Road and see some flowers next to the road, I hope you will take some time to remember Jack Medley and all the other veterans who gave so much to be so belittled by so many who call themselves public servants.
Mary E. Jordan