FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 02, 2009
Pentagon opens fallen soldiers' homecoming ceremonies to media
The military policy change reflects the power of photos. Pick a news or feature image that evokes strong emotions and discuss how it affects you.
Look through recent issues for reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. Could the amount of coverage affect public opinion?
War news hits home on a local or state level, particularly for military families. Can you find a quote, photo or news item that personalizes the Iraq or Afghanistan missions for your community
A ban on news coverage of flag-draped military coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware is lifted as part of the new political era in Washington. For the first time in 18 years, families now decide whether to allow print and broadcast images of Iraq and Afghanistan war casualties returning to the U.S. "We should not presume to make the decision for the families," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last week. "We should actually let them make it."
The media access issue has deeply divided the military as well as veterans and family groups. Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association, says her group hopes "this new policy accommodates a variety of wishes."
Restrictions on news photos and videos were defended on privacy grounds, but critics saw an attempt to avoid images that could boost pressure to bring U.S. troops home. "If it's out of sight, it's out of mind," says Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. "People don't think about it unless they have a visual."
Solider's dad says: "We are pretty disappointed in the president's decision to overturn the ban. This is a complete disregard for the will of America's military families and their need for privacy during this solemn moment." - John Ellsworth, whose 20-year-old son, Justin, died in Iraq in 2004
Defense secretary says: "I talked directly with the senior leadership of the services and solicited their views. I'll be perfectly honest about it. There was a division in the building. People were all trying to do what was right by the families." - Robert Gates
Editorial says: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the right decision. ... Certainly, our fallen heroes should be treated with the utmost respect. But we should never be allowed to forget the human cost of war. ... Taking those sobering photographs serves an important purpose. It reminds us of the very real, very human cost of the wars that we fight." - The Jackson (Tenn.) Sun
Front Page Talking Points Archive