by Jeff Skinner
Occasionally this space will devote a column to a subject other then golf. Golf is a wonderful and entertaining pastime, but sometimes we need to concern ourselves with other issues that affect us.
There is a debate going on in Washington D.C. concerning the return of the remains of the fallen servicemen and women. Presently, the remains of the soldiers are handled in a private atmosphere with no press allowed to be present. At Dover Air Force Base and Travis Air Force Base a military honor guard removes flag draped coffins from the aircraft to waiting hearses with quiet dignity and no unneeded personnel present. Many in the press and the public feel that the ban on press should be lifted and writers and photographers should be allowed to report on the ceremony. There is a growing feeling that the nation should be allowed to see the return of the dead as a way to remind us that we are at war. There is currently a bill in Congress that seeks a lifting of the ban. (See Newsweek)
I do understand the thinking of those wishing to reverse this ban on the press, but I believe there are more important factors to consider. Some opponents of the ban say it is the government’s way of hiding the real cost of this war, and it is a way to control the publicity given the war. That may very well be the case. The public does not see the coffins of the men and women that have given their lives come off the planes. However, if anyone in this country does not realize that we are still at war, multiple wars, then I say those are the people that do not vote, read the news, care about this country or have a friend or relative in the Armed Forces.
If the ban was lifted I fear that the pictures and stories would be used in an undignified and improper way by many in the press. This is not a subject to be used for propaganda or tabloid magazines. This is not an easy matter. Whether it was intentional or an accident, the ban on press at these ceremonies have made them intimate, solemn and dignified. That is the way these heroes should be treated. To allow press and photographers to witness these ceremonies would only end up disgracing the memories of the fallen. President Obama and the Department of Defense need to deny the call to remove the press ban. They need to insure that any military personnel that returns to this country in a flag draped coffin is treated with the dignity and respect that the flag represents.
I have included links to The White House and The Department of Defense where we can leave comments on this subject. The department of Defense has already taken some actions. Let your opinions be known by those that make the decisions.