A survey of the way America honors fallen soldiers follows the experiences of a Marine major whose duties include casualty notification, a responsibility involving unexpected and untrained acts of compassion.
The Messenger tells the story of a man assigned to one of the toughest jobs in the military: notifying the families of the fallen. Col. Steve Beck does that job for the U.S. Marine Corps, and his story is at the center of Final Salute, a book by Jim Sheeler. Sheeler (pictured) and Beck join Fresh Air to talk about a duty that's both an honor and a burden.
"Never leave a Marine behind." That tradition began in 1775, and continues today via officers like Col. Steve Beck, whose job it is to notify families of the loss of a loved one. Beck — and the families he contacted — is the subject of journalist Jim Sheeler's book Final Salute. Sheeler (pictured) and Beck talk to Terry Gross about a duty that's both an honor and a burden.