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.