WWII Humanist John Hormuth Honored at Arlington Cemetery

John & Mattie Hormuth

On July 25th, 2011, John Hormuth and his wife Mattie were interred at Arlington cemetery.  John was a WWII pilot who earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart during over 100 sorties in the war.  He was also a loving father and husband to his wife Mattie, who loved him, their 7 children, and her gardens.

The day was beautiful for the ceremony, with full military honors of a band, a caisson to carry their remains, and a military detail to fold the flag and fire volleys to lay them to rest.  Over 30 friends and family, including great grandchildren, came from around the country to attend the service, share their sorrows, and cherish fond memories.

MAAF President Jason Torpy presided over the ceremony, giving honors from one foxhole atheist to another.  The family received the following presentation with pictures and a transcript of the service:  John and Mattie Hormuth, Arlington Cemetery, July 25th, 2011.

John and Mattie can be honored through visits to the site (64-6236).  John joins several other foxhole atheists at Arlington Cemetery, including fellow WWII pilot John Henderson (54-4456), WWII POW leader Hans Kasten (60-95), and famous orator Colonel Robert Ingersoll (South/1820).

Arlington Lady escorted to family to offer official blessings

Arlington Lady escorted to family to offer official blessings

Unfortunately, the event did not go perfectly.  The family is requesting action from the Arlington cemetery administration and the Army regarding religious intrusions into the event.  The family requested a humanist headstone, a humanist speaker, no chaplain interaction, and specifically reiterated the importance of a nonreligious event on the day of the service.  These requests were ignored by the assigned representative and by the Arlington Ladies who, as an official part of the ceremony, blessed the grieving family and provided a religious card as an official part of the service and, according to the lady, “on behalf of the chief of staff of the Army.”  MAAF has requested comment from the assigned Arlington Lady and the Army, but inquiries have not yet been responded to.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has done well in making its policies clear.  Arlington Cemetery, unlike other US military cemeteries, is under the direction of the Army rather than the Veterans Administration.  The Chief of Staff of the Army should ensure that the Arlington Ladies are not praying on his behalf.  The Army should ensure that Arlington National Cemetery includes religious content only at the request of the family and only under the supervision of the chaplains.  MAAF applauds the care and dedication of the Arlington Ladies and other similar groups, but their care must not come at the cost of government-sponsored religious speech that is against a family’s wishes.  MAAF hopes this can be a case in point to allow the Army to stand firm for families’ rights and ensure staff and volunteers work within the bounds of propriety during military ceremonies.

10 Responses to WWII Humanist John Hormuth Honored at Arlington Cemetery

  1. Pingback: Humanists honor fallen warriors for Independence Day | Secular News Daily

  2. Here647, you are hilariously without a clue. Thanks for your jokes, and now you can go back to your church basement.

  3. It’s a shame that liberal extremist organizations like yours are terrorizing the US citizens with your anti religious hate. If you were truly “atheists” then any religious content in the ceremony should just be meaningless to you. However, the urges that motivate you and others like you to put websites like this, and do things like “..requesting action from the Arlington cemetery administration and the Army regarding religious intrusions..” is nothing more then pure, anti-religious, hatred. Which doesn’t make you Atheists as you claim but aligns you closer to Satan worshipers.

    • I only reply at this late date on the off-chance that someone else like myself might stumble upon your boorish and ignorant comment. Those who are atheist (without beliefs in the supernatural, mythological or superstious) find an incroachment of religious statements, prayers and ritual at their gravesite to be highly insulting and suspicious. The insult is no less than a Christian might feel to see and hear naked nymphs or chicken blood covered shaman of paganism prancing around the grave. Though many may be, atheists in and of themselves are not liberal. In fact, most atheists in foxholes are rather conservative and patriotic to a fault. Atheisim is not ANTI-religion, we are NO-religion. As for being Satan worshippers, only those who believe in a Satan could possibly worship such an entity. Someone stating atheists are Satan worshippers is infinitely more likely to be the Satanist, because they believe such an individual even exists. When one is used to running the game their way and only their way, as well as always winning by default, might well think it unfair that another team might wish to play on an even field and abide by the written rules of the game.

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  5. Michael – I’m not sure your comment follows from this post. Ceremony and ritual are meaningful to people. Respect for one’s wishes are meaningful to people. Separation of Church and State is an important foundation of our government. This is about a ceremony of remembrance, not a disposal of remains. It comforts the living and honors the lives of those now gone. Religion has its rituals, but those are not relevant to the many issues in this story.

  6. It seems to me that we atheists ought to be light hearted and without prejudice in our disposal of our loved ones’ remains, lest we make a religion of atheism. Those athesists who are unable to take full satisfaction in their atheism until it supplants religion are in for a very, very long wait.

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