Coffins and media decision made

February 27, 2009 · Filed Under LAW, Military News, Military Parents, Parents News · Comment 
They Are Not Alone

They Are Not Alone

As you all probably know, the SecDef has made his decision concerning the media access to coffins of the fallen coming into Dover AFB. The decision is that media will be allowed if the family requests it.

No matter how you or I feel about this (and I’m not going to put my opinion out here), this is now the way it is. Now there is paperwork that will be required, I’m sure there will be a form, and procedures and requirements etc. A question that is definitely out there – WHO is the one who will make that decision. Should it be the wife? the parents? the children (my son is an adult, and would put his 2 cents in). One commentor I saw suggested it should be up to the service member, that this should be something they decide.

As we’ve discussed before (well, I did the talking, hope you did the reading!) most of us have planned funerals for our service member. That’s one of those things that military families do that boggle the minds of the civilians. This is part of that planning. As a spouse, would I want my husband’s family to have any say in this decision? good question. As a mom, would I stand back and let my daughter in law make that decision, if I didn’t agree with it? another good one.

Do YOU guys have any answers? and if you want to let us know how you feel about the decision, feel free. Don’t forget, be polite!


Coffins, Photographs and the families rights

ParentsZone has always been fiercely apolitical, and will remain so. I don’t personally feel this is a totally political action or that it is strictly partisan.  This hits ALL of the military family equally, and there are a lot of questions that we are all asking.   The answers are not easy to find.  With this caveat:

As you may have read, the Secretary of Defense is reviewing the policy of taking photographs of coffins of the recently fallen soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan arriving at Dover AFB. This is one of those subjects that makes those of us who have family members serving – think, twitch and wonder what would we do.

As Andi on SpouseBuzz said – we plan funerals, in our heads. Yes, I’ve planned my husband’s  (with no help from him, other than a request for Dixie played by bagpipes).  I planned my son’s too.  (the music for that one was difficult too)  I haven’t had to use those plans…and I haven’t thought about the media, other than to hope they will show some respect. That, unfortunately, isn’t what has happened at many funerals. I went to nine funerals last deployment, and the media held back – it could have been that Midwestern reticence, but I’ll figure it was the Patriot Guard!

So how do I feel about it? I don’t honestly know. I’ve read other blogs about it, I’ve always thought that maybe the other 99% of the US population should see the true cost of the war; not just the money, but the lives – the lives lost, the lives shattered, the lives of the children losing a parent, the parent losing a child,  the lives of the friends who mourn. But those same families and friends have the right to mourn in private, to survive the pain without cameras in their faces.

How do I feel? Confused. I know that I understand the families’ point of view that don’t want the pictures taken, I know I understand those that say these coffins, when they arrive, don’t have names on them that can be seen by photographers, that no-one is saying that they want to take pictures of widows and parents receiving the coffins, but is this the slippery slope we hear so much about? If we allow a photograph of a coffin on a plane floor, does that mean we will allow a picture of a woman kissing the coffin, of a child hugging the coffin holding her daddy?

And I want Secretary Gates to ask us. Not the Generals, not the under secretary of whatever, ask us. We are the ones who this will affect, we are the ones who live with this possibility. Please, tell me what you think.