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March 02, 2009

Quotes for the Day

What they said:

...the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have “condemned” lifting the ban. American Legion National Commander, David K. Rehbein said this:
Photographing the caskets that contain the remains of the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice on behalf of our country and its freedom, is little short of sacrilege. The practice would be intrusive and hurtful to the warriors’ families. The return of our heroes is also a sacred moment for our armed forces, and should respected.

Glen M. Gardner, Jr., National Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., and a Marine veteran of Vietnam:

…the return of America’s fallen warriors in not a media event.

Gardner points out that that in our country “only seven-tenths of 1 percent of the population wears the uniform: “I maintain that those Americans who are in this war - the military and their families - know the true picture.

Secretary Gates gave little time to resolve the many questions and procedures. Our country has been thrown into this - one more critical and sensitive decision to be made too quickly to be made soundly.

- Maggie Thornton

When DoD manages to dismiss the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, seven in ten respondents to the Military.com poll and the 85% of Military Families United families who wanted the ban left in place, it's hard to argue the views of the military community were taken seriously.

Let alone heard. But hey, we understand. There was a deadline.

Posted by Cassandra at March 2, 2009 01:20 PM

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Yea, well, not really surprised there.

I think , much as the will and other some such are required for every member getting deployed, I think there should be a notarized affidavit from all members that states their preference. And this cannot be overridden by anyone. That should eliminate the possibility of another Sheehan-esque case when it comes to these pictures. Not to mention it eliminates the potential problem of divided families.

I can only cringe and wait to see the mess that comes of this. It will undoubtedly turn into a very ugly beast that will leave a trail of pain and horror behind it.


Posted by: tankerswife at March 2, 2009 03:01 PM

Hey, silly. The need of even one member of the Fourth Estate to have a kewl picture to accompany whatever s/he is writing trumps all considerations of military personnel and their families.

Why? Because the 4th Estate votes for the man... many, if not most, of us, didn't.

Ergo, we can be discarded when convenient to pay other bills.

Posted by: Eau de Locker Room at March 2, 2009 03:24 PM

The ban will return as soon as the number of flag-draped transfer cases from *Afghanistan* increases.

And the reason given will be "to protect the privacy of the families"...

Posted by: BillT at March 2, 2009 03:35 PM

" The need of even one member of the Fourth Estate to have a kewl picture to accompany whatever s/he is writing..."

Not to mention those who would use the moment as a *photo op* to make a personal, political point. They gotta have those pix, too, yanno. Else, how would The World know what they -- not the servicemember -- sacrificed?

Posted by: Dr. Froderick von Frahnkenschtine at March 2, 2009 03:36 PM

I think there truly are families who want to share the return of their loved one with the rest of the country.

They really do believe this might help the civilian community underestand more about the military and the sacrifices that are being made on their behalf. I don't personally believe that folks who haven't paid attention to the frequent media reminders of the "cost of war" are going to suddenly say "D'oh! *Now* I get it!" just because they see an anonymous coffin draped with a flag, but they are entitled to their opinion.

Personally I would think writing about the family or the funeral or just the life of the deceased would be a far more meaningful tribute/wake up call, and that doesn't involve the possibility of an unwelcome intrusion by the media upon those who don't want them there.

I, too, like the idea of the servicemember electing to have media coverage or not. It does pose a risk to the surviving family, however they don't have to be at Dover if that troubles them and in any group of caskets, their loved one would not be identifiable. It does sort of fall under the rubric of "funeral arrangements" although how many civilians are FORCED to make an explicit decision regarding whether they want the media to photograph their coffin? It's pretty much accepted that only family has the "right" to share in that private moment.

Again, this really strikes me as a situation where a minority are imposing costs on the majority. If there were no other way to share your loss with the media, I'd say that was a compelling reason to allow this.

But when there are plenty of other ways to accomplish the same thing, it doesn't seem right to allow a minority to have the final say. And that's exactly what this decision does: regardless of whether I or my husband said "no media", I'd feel that I had to go to Dover personally to ensure my husband's wishes were carried out. Because he feels so strongly about it, I wouldn't be able to rest easy unless I did that.

That is a burden I don't think I or any other military spouse ought to have forced on them at such a vulnerable moment to confer a benefit that is otherwise available on others.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 2, 2009 03:56 PM

sorry if this is off, but you did say quotes for the day...

ok... i know its off subject, but given the subject, i think a little lifting of spirits might be allowed... maybe...

from don surber...


Iranian Air Defense Radar: “Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.”

Pilot: “This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.”

Air Defense Radar: “You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!”

Pilot: “This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter. Send ‘em up, I’ll wait!”

Air Defense Radar: (no response… total silence)

Don't mess with the Marines.


Posted by: artfldgr at March 2, 2009 04:18 PM

I have to wonder about the people who made this decision. It seems to me that they haven't been in the situation of having to deal with the death of a loved one....at least not in their own recent past. That's the only thing that keeps coming to my mind when I try to rationalize this decision. They haven't been through the pain of seeing someone they love lifeless in a casket. Because, if they would just put themselves in *those* shoes for just a second, surely, as a rational human being, they would see that lifting the ban is just wrong on every level.
I try to put myself in *those* shoes. I try to imagine what it would feel like. The pain of losing a loved one...I've got that one down pat. Having somebody snapping pictures of the casket, me, my family as we're seeing that casket for the first time? I can't imagine hurting anymore than I already would be from the loss. I can only begin to imagine just how violated I would feel. And I resent the idea that with all that must be decided and done at such a time, I must now also protect my husband's body and my daughter from the media whores that smell fresh blood in the water.

Posted by: DL Sly at March 2, 2009 04:33 PM

I think the ban should be re-instated. If a family feels that they want the return of their loved ones remains publicized, there is nothing stopping them from taking their own pictures and releasing them to the media. That the ban was lifted without consulting the ones who will be directly affected is insensitive and unjust. But then, consider the source.

Posted by: Leslie at March 2, 2009 04:44 PM

Didn't you get the memo, Cass? (Oh wait...we do have that reading comprehension issue. I forgot)

The press has our best interests at heart. Really.
And besides, the SecDef has made his decision and we just need to shut up.

Lie back.
Try to relax.
You might feel a little pressure.

Posted by: Carrie at March 3, 2009 08:36 AM

Pure politics. And as we know, "poli" is for many...and ticks are blood-sucking creatures. It makes me ill...

Posted by: camojack at March 4, 2009 03:39 AM