“Less than 1% of the American population has served in Iraq or Afghanistan. There has never been a greater disconnect between those who serve in harms warm and those back home. All too often, the sacrifices of our military are hidden from view. The sight of flag-draped coffins is, and should be, a sobering reminder to all Americans of the ultimate sacrifice our troops have made and the high price of our freedom,” said IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff.
I understand some of what Paul is saying - that Americans are not connected to this war. After all, that's what great about Taking Chance (the story or the movie). It shows the connections that are there even when we think they aren't.
What I believe on this matter is that the soldiers are not being represented. I have lost three of the best men I could have as friends. Their families' inconsolable grief is something that I would want to ease. If having a photo of their son's casket, treated with dignity, would ease their grief or concerns, I can see Secretary Gates' position. From Reuters:
...President Barack Obama asked for a policy review early this month and Gates said that drew a call for change from the U.S. Army, which represents the largest portion of war dead.
"My conclusion was that we should not presume to make the decision for the families," Gates said.
"I believe that the American people would defer to the wishes of the families of the fallen," he added. "That's where I would wager a lot of money."...
However, not one of my fallen brothers, and not any of my friends in the war zones now, would ever want their death to be used by the media, their families, or anyone else that might reduce their sacrifice or the effort to win the war. Would Casey Sheehan have wanted that? From what I know about him as a soldier, I highly doubt it.
Like TSO at This Ain't Hell, my parents might disagree with me on the photo issue. My parents divorced when I was 10 years old. If had been killed in unpleasant places in the 80s or 90s, my mother most likely would not have wanted the media to use a photo of my casket. My father, quite possibly would have welcomed that. Casey Sheehan's divorced parents might have had the same disagreement. How will that predicament be solved? (note to SecDef Gates: The Blackfive Mom is quite formidable.)
And who in the Army requested the change?
It took me a good hour and a walk in the rain to calm down enough to publish this post.
Because it's Code Pink and other anti-war outfits that are pressuring the government (the articles all state pressure from politicians and "a leading military families group"). And it's Jawn Carry who also thinks it's a good idea.
Yes, the family has to authorize the taking of the photo. That seems like a reasonable enough control mechanism doesn't it?
It would if no one would ever abuse those photos. Do you really believe that Code Pink and the other organizations responsible for this reversal of policy will respect the intent of the new policy?
These are the same people that held signs outside of Walter Reed at night when the buses of wounded troops from OIF and OEF rolled in (I saw the sign) that said:
So what about the soldier's wishes?
Don't they matter as much, if not more, in this case?
Or are we just going to provide "a sobering reminder to all Americans"?
When the first soldier's flag draped casket appears among all the hate sites, you can bet we will mobilize. Just because a fallen soldier can't defend himself is no excuse to abuse their memory. And that does not mean that there aren't millions of us to step up and protect his sacrifice.
As McQ said eloquently in his post: IT'S ABOUT FAMILY.
Our family deserves dignity and respect.
Update: Bohica22 in our Comments leaves this message (Warning: The first photo might make you sick, angry or both):