The family of a slain army officer killed by an alleged white supremacist, Lieutenant Richard Collins III, has vowed to fight after he was denied a military burial.
Richard’s parents, Rick and Dawn Collins, are seeking a proper burial for their son at the Arlington National Cemetery. They’ve reportedly been trying to get assistance from America’s first Black Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin, after their requests to have the 23-year-old buried at the cemetery was denied.
“We plan to meet with the Secretary of Defense soon and would like to see our request approved for an exception to current policy concerning our son,” Rick, a Navy veteran, told the news outlet. “These are extraordinary circumstances, so, therefore, we think it does deserve an exemption.”
In a recent statement, the Arlington National Cemetery’s Director Of Public Affairs claimed that burial space at the cemetery “is extremely limited and members with no active-duty military service other than training do not qualify.”
“Arlington National Cemetery offers its heartfelt condolences to the Collins family. Their request for an exception to the burial policy at Arlington National Cemetery underwent a thorough review,” Kerry L. Meeker wrote, regarding the Collins family’s request. “While 2nd Lt. Collins’ death was tragic and his commitment to serve in the Army extremely admirable, the Secretary of the Army made the decision to deny the request. Exceptions to policy are rarely approved.”
Dawn responded to the statement, saying she and Rick “don’t agree with the policy.”
“I believe wholeheartedly that once our son took that oath and pledged his allegiance to this country, he was a military officer and the policy that they have, in our opinion, is a bad policy,” she said. “We believe that our son was duty bound to serve this country. So, what we’re saying is the United States military, your duty bound to serve him as well.”
Richard was fatally stabbed by a white man, then 22-year-old Sean Urbanski, in 2017, after Urbanski approached him and his friends and demanded he “step left.” At the time, he was reportedly at a bus stop on the University of Maryland College Park campus, celebrating being commissioned into the Army. That year, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army.
Urbanski was reportedly charged with first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Richard’s parents added that if the Pentagon denies their request for burial at the Arlington National Cemetery, they will call the White House for help. Dawn also said she and Rick will “continue this fight because it helps keep my son’s memory alive and letting the world know he mattered and he was loved.”