I opened the morning paper one day last week and was greeted with a heartbreaking picture of a grieving couple. Their 19-year-old soldier son had died in Iraq just before his scheduled return. The caption read, "We almost had him home." Today, the Los Angeles Times featured a story about commonly-held "ramp ceremonies," where, in "reverential, dignified and almost majestic" tributes to the dead, soldiers and Marines quickly line up on runways bearing cargo planes getting ready to depart with the fallen. Journalists are not allowed to photograph these plane-side rituals. The Pentagon thinks the American public should be spared these images, and we know why. Obviously, we can't handle it. We would be too sad. We would want to stay home and cry rather than go out shopping. Oh, wait a minute; I forgot. We can't afford to go shopping anymore.
I have a suggestion for this country's newspaper editors and television station managers, who have opted to quietly abide by the wise Pentagon's rules. If they won't let you cover the funerals, cover the grieving families. Every day. Decide to put a grieving couple's picture on the front page of your papers. Every day. Their pain tells the story much more efficiently than the covered caskets. Plus, the family gets to have their child memorialized in a personal way. Or, rather than the grieving parents, you could feature a fallen soldier's picture on the front page -- every day. TV stations could decide to open each evening's broadcast with a short memorial on that day's featured fallen soldier. There are lots of ways to cover this story, people. Get creative. Show some guts. It's your job. Wake up.
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