Peter Wang, a JROTC cadet at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Photo via Jesse Pan/Facebook.
Peter Wang, a 15-year-old freshman in the JROTC program at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, was killed a week ago in the shooting at his school. He died a hero, holding open the door so his classmates could escape before him.
Understandably, people have been moved by the story of Wang’s selfless sacrifice, and have sought to find ways to honor his legacy. A petition was filed at WhiteHouse.gov to ask the United States Military to provide a military funeral with full honors for Wang. That will not happen, but it is for good reason.
As a cadet in the JROTC, Wang was not yet an official member of the United States military, and so would not be entitled to the military funeral honors offered to service members and veterans. The code has been in place for a long time and the law cannot be circumvented in this situation.
That does not diminish Wang’s heroism, and also does not mean that he will not be recognized by our armed services. The JROTC chapter at Wang’s school will conduct the funeral service and provide an honor guard, and as RedState reported a few days ago, military members on the r/military forum on Reddit were organizing to attend Wang’s funeral in uniform to show their respects, as well as sending military patches and challenge coins to Wang’s family.
The desire to honor the memory of this brave young hero is a noble one, but based on all the reporting about him, he would not want an honor he had not earned, and a full military funeral would not be appropriate.
Wang will be laid to rest today as a hero, with the gratitude and respect of the entire country. May God bless his family and friends, and may the outpouring of support from across America provide some small comfort to them in their grief.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.