Soldier's Funeral Draws Thousands

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Mourners filed past Army Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin's coffin Sunday in Cincinnati. His remains were found in Iraq last month, nearly four years after he was captured by insurgents.

BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, fancy-pants lettuce. I'm Rachel Martin.

PESCA: And I'm Mike Pesca. It's Monday, April 28th, 2008. What's your lettuce of choice, Rachel?

MARTIN: My lettuce of choice is - and I'm just saying this because I know you don't like it - baby bok choy.

PESCA: Oh, man, I'm an iceberg man through and through.

MARTIN: You're so iceberg lettuce, Mike Pesca. I also like Italian spring mix.

PESCA: Is that many different types of lettuce, or...

MARTIN: There's some red cabbage in there.

PESCA: Uh huh.

MARTIN: I like to mix it up. Some days, I like arugula. I'm - you get - I'm unpredictable!

PESCA: Well, your choice of lettuce would paint you as an elitist, apparently, if you look at the cover of Newsweek...

MARTIN: It's true.

PESCA: Where lettuce has become the symbol of those out of touch with the common man. How far you have come from your Idaho roots.

MARTIN: Yeah, right.

PESCA: To embrace the arugula lettuce. And we'll be talking about lettuce ridiculousness, and all the other ridiculousness having to do with politics. Some non-ridiculous stuff like race, and the white vote, and Jeremiah Wright, but we'll get down to it on the BPP.

MARTIN: Also this hour, we're going to France. There was a big frog-leg festival over the weekend. Big news. Turns out that commercial production of frog legs has been banned in France. That happened back in the late '70s. So, what's going on in this festival? How did they get their frog on? We're going to find out this hour.

PESCA: I love that song, "Get Your Frog On."

MARTIN: "Get Your Frog On," very popular in Idaho.

PESCA: And why are there so many songs about rainbows, I wonder? Also, sports with Bill Wolff, and a report published by the AP that has sparked consternation. It has to do with sludge, the EPA, and low-income black neighborhoods in Baltimore. We'll get to all of those stories and today's headlines in a minute, but first...

(Soundbite of music)

(Soundbite of orchestral music)

MARTIN: That's the 338th Army band yesterday in Cincinnati, Ohio, where a memorial service was held for Staff Sergeant Keith "Matt" Maupin. Maupin was the first American soldier declared missing-in-action in Iraq, back in 2004. Last month, his remains were found, and yesterday, thousands from his home state of Ohio turned out to remember him.

Mr. CARL COTTRELL: You were strong, both mentally and physically. God could not have chosen a better soldier than you to bear what you must have borne.

PESCA: That's Maupin's brother-in-law, Carl Cottrell. Master Sergeant Billy Ray Durham was Matt Maupin's former recruiter. He said young people should look up to the fallen soldier.

Staff Sergeant BILLY RAY DURHAM (Recruiter, U.S. Army): I can say without hesitation that I hope my kids grow up and demonstrate the character that Matt Maupin possessed.

PESCA: The memorial was held at the Great American Ball Park, home of baseball's Cincinnati's Reds. Maupin's casket was also on display during a day-long visitation at a civic center in Claremont County, east of Cincinnati, where he grew up.

MARTIN: In Maupin's hometown of Batavia, Ohio, yesterday, Julie Holcomb (ph) was putting up yellow ribbons in his honor.

Ms. JULIE HOLCOMB (Resident, Batavia, Ohio): He has become a hometown hero to a lot of people, and an inspiration to many men and women in service.

PESCA: Matt Maupin was a 20-year-old private, first class, when he was captured April 9th, 2004, after his fuel convoy was ambushed west of Baghdad. Al-Jazeera aired a videotape a week later, showing Maupin sitting on the floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles.

MARTIN: Two months after his capture, al-Jazeera aired another tape purporting to show a U.S. soldier being shot, but the dark and grainy tape showed only the back of the victim's head, and not the actual shooting.

PESCA: Over the years, Maupin's parents lobbied to keep their son listed as missing-captured, and met with President Bush several times. Last month, his remains were identified using DNA testing.

MARTIN: Maupin's younger brother, Micah, is a Marine stationed in California. He was in Ohio for the memorial, and is likely to be sent to Iraq soon. The military was holding him stateside until his brother's fate was known.

PESCA: You can get more on this story from npr.org. Now let's get some more headlines with the BPP's Mark Garrison.

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