February 12, 2009

The Media’s Actions On A Daily Basis Is Why We Have the Policy To Begin With

Robert’s post on Tuesday has been getting quite a bit of airplay at several other blogs and has generated quite a response at a few others. Andi at SpouseBuzz writes in reference to the possibility of removing the policy, and its possible effect:

I have mentally buried my husband a hundred times. I'm willing to bet you have, too. In fact, if you have and you think you're weird, you're not. Click here to find out why. In the process of mentally preparing my husband's funeral, I always pictured the moment I received his casket to be a solemn and private moment. My husband's remains and me.
And this is exactly how it should be. It is a private moment between the family and their warrior.

When Robert wrote about his Last Ride To Take His Son Home, he relates his private moment with his son and the subsequent phone call to his wife to relay:

“Our boy is home.”
And finishes his letter to us by saying:

“Then, the ride was over - my last ride taking my boy home. It was time to share him with others. My boy had come home a man's man who was a fallen warrior. He gave as much as he had to give to his GOD, Family, Duty, Honor and especially his Country. In return, he asked for nothing.”
Read that again and note that he says, “It was time to share him with others.” This is not a moment to be shared but to be guarded jealously by the family, the outside intrusion of the media and by extension the nation is and would be an unwelcome intrusion upon a private and personal moment. A moment that most of us will never have to endure.

Chuck Z notes that the media is more than confused on what is and is not actual news anymore:

[A]ny journalist who thinks that this is "news," that a deployed soldiers' family wants to be reminded of the risks involved this on the nightly news, that the family of a service member who has given his last full measure wants to see this, is sadly, sadly, mistaken.
And that is the issue: the media is sadly mistaken about this issue. In their minds, since they are locked out of the moment they somehow came to the belief that something nefarious is going on, and it is their duty to uncover it and expose it. But there is another aspect of this hatred of the policy that excludes them, and that being that they can not currently use the bodies of our fallen warriors to help push their public agenda. Even Military.com falls victim to this mindset with their poll today asking the question:

The Pentagon policy that keeps the media from documenting the return of fallen warriors . . .
Should be overturned. The nation should be able to share in the loss of these heroes while respecting the privacy of surviving family members.
Should be upheld. We should continue to avoid a media circus and respect the feelings of the families involved.
Do they honestly believe that the Ed Henry, Mike Luckovich and the rest of the media really want to join the families in mourning their fallen warrior and at the same time respect their privacy? Have the editorial board of Military.com watched any recent news story that involved the death of anyone? Respecting the privacy of the family is the last thing they are concerned with doing, just ask Caylee’s grandparents.

The death of a warrior many times becomes a media event, primarily because the warrior is well loved at home and many want to pay their respects to the fallen. They line the streets along the procession route to the final burial place and pack the churches, to pay their respects, but the arrival of a fallen warrior in Dover, or the local airport for the convenience of the family must always remain a private moment. The time to share in the mourning with the family is after they have had their time with their loved one, not before, and the farther we can keep the media and their uncontrollable adolescent hormones away the better.

My questions to the media executives who want this policy over turned is:

To what purpose do you need to view and photograph the fallen warriors even before the family is able to grasp the finality of the situation?

And in light of the fact that as an industry you are revered right there alongside the proverbial used car sales man: What are you going to do to ensure that you honor the wishes of the family?

When a family says no, are you honestly expecting us to believe that you are going to honor their wishes?

I know I was born early in the morning, but it wasn’t this morning, so to gain my trust it’s going to take an almost miraculous effort on your part to make me waver on the belief that you are only interested in the bottom line and the feelings and wishes of the fallen warrior’s family will come in a very distant 5th place.

To Secretary Gates I ask: If the officers you assign to this task of reviewing this policy come back with a recommendation to keep it in place, are you going to follow their recommendation or will you bend to the winds of politics? And more importantly: please include our current Gold Star Families in your review, Robert Stokely will be at the Pentagon next Wednesday, don’t blow him off.

We await your decision, but I implore you; don’t screw the families of our fallen warriors for political gain.

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