Thursday, February 26, 2009

Write To Robert Gates

Tell Him To Lift the Dover Ban
has a page where you can go and email a letter to Robert Gates, urging him to allow photographs of the returning service dead.

Here's the body of the letter:

It's far past time to lift the ban on photos of caskets of our returning fallen heroes at Dover Air Force Base and other ports of entry. I stand with, to urge you to advise President Obama to lift the ban.

As you know, the ban was instituted just before the first Gulf War, by the first President Bush, worried that images of the dead coming home could affect support for the war, just as they had during Vietnam. But, George W. Bush allowed images of a victim of the Pentagon 9/11 attacks to be shown, to stir up anger.

It's time to take politics out of this issue, and allow for the free flow of information again. The American people have the right to see and know all the costs of war, including the human cost.

And finally, this is about being able to honor the fallen. The return ceremony is incredibly respectful, and deeply honorable. We should be allowing all Americans to share in honoring the fallen, not hiding it.

I ask you to recommend lifting the ban, keeping in mind the privacy concerns of the families of the fallen.
Seeing the human cost of our wars should be mandatory. I've seen it first hand, I help bury the dead.

I also recommend finding a way to watch the HBO Film's touching "Taking Chance."
It's about a Marine Lt. Col. who, takes time off from his job crunching manpower numbers to escort the body of a young marine. Little bits of humanity abound. When I was still in Arizona, I played a military funeral for a young man from my hometown. That turned into being asked by the command sgt. major to play more funerals. The Sgt. Major and I are now pretty close friends. He's in Afghanistan right now at incredible risk.

The whole photo ban thing was begun by George H.W. Bush during the first gulf war. He was worried that if Americans saw the bodies coming back, they wouldn't support his war. If a political hold on a policy is that fucking fragile it deserves to be broken.

Let us see the human costs of these wars. The soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines who perform the escort and honor guard duty won't regret it. They've labored at their tasks, those heartbreaking tasks of washing and dressing the dead for seven years.

Seven years. It's time you saw.


Robert Gates, with the stroke of a pen has now changed this shameful policy. If the family of the deceased gives their consent, full access will be granted for photographs and reporting.