Burying a child is every parent's nightmare, but for some reason one mother's misery was magnified by a government decision.
Ngoc Truong, served four years in America's Navy, left military service last October to go to school in Florida.
But shortly after that, doctors diagnosed him with leukemia. Just last month, Ngoc Truong died and was laid to rest in Tennessee.
His father, a small business owner there in Blytheville, attended the service. His ex-wife, Ngoc's mother, did not. Or make that could not.
She lives in Vietnam, twice applied for a visa to stand graveside at the burial of the child to whom she gave birth, twice the government denied her.
We don't know why. Visa records, the State Department said are confidential.
There may be a good reason for her denial. For me, it would have to be a really good reason. I make no secret of my belief that people who serve our country, our communities as defenders of the rest of us either in armed service or public safety, deserve some special privileges.
In this case, Ngoc Truong service should have resulted in special consideration for his mother. The Navy veteran loved to quote John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
And he didn't ask. He served...and served proudly.
For that reason alone, that empty graveside chair should have been occupied by a grieving Mother.