Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A sight Americans deserve

Weighed against the economic calamity facing President Obama, another decision he promises to make soon is minor, but no less painful.

Should he end the prohibition against media being present and photographing flag-covered caskets bearing dead U.S. service personnel arriving at Dover Air Force Base, Del., from combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, a ban in effect since 1991 and the Gulf War?

A sample poll conducted by military families among themselves heavily favors—by 64 percent—retaining the media ban as protecting privacy of kin.

However, others argue the nation needs to honor its fallen fighters as well as to see the real costs of the wars to American families beyond hundreds of billions of dollars.

Canada and Britain treat the arrival of their dead as a national ritual with live TV coverage and respectful citizens lining highways as vehicles bearing caskets head for military facilities. Once opposed to media attention, Britons and Canadians now heartily support the national honors.

In these uncertain days when Americans face foreboding futures, the nation deserves an opportunity to celebrate and honor men and women who've given their all for their country, and not simply allow them to slip back into their homeland almost anonymously.

Notwithstanding reservations of some military families, publicly honoring heroic battlefield sacrifices is a tradition built on respect and dignity woven into American pride for its military.

The return of our heroes of today deserves no less national tribute.

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