Friday, January 14, 2005

Families and National Guard defy Pentagon's ban on coffin photos

A Louisiana National Guard unit defied not only the general ban, but a specific Pentagon request to prevent television news crews from filming six flag-draped soldiers' coffins arriving in the state
following the men's deaths in Iraq last week.

According to "Editor and Publisher"

The Louisiana National Guard allowed a CBS crew to film the arrival of
six soldiers' coffins at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in
Belle Chasse, La., near New Orleans. Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, a
spokesman for the Louisiana National Guard, told CBS: "What we thought
was, we're going to do what the family asked us to do."

"They grew up together, went to school together, went to war together," said Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, a public affairs officer. "They died together. It was important for the family to see them come home together."

The somber ceremony was what the family wanted and it's what each man would have wanted, said Sgt. Greg Drinkwater, who was a fellow member of the 2-156 Charlie Company, nicknamed "Black Sheep."

"As soldiers, all we want is a good military burial," Drinkwater said.

I think that what we are seeing is a military very fed up with being used and abused for political purposes. Hats off to the Louisiana National Guard. Those dead soldiers gave their lives while serving their country. They deserve the right to have their homecoming photographed, to have the pictures put in front of each and every one of us, so that we can acknowledge and reflect on their sacrifice. Shame on the Bush administration, who would have the remains of these and the other nearly 1,400 dead soldiers spririted back into the country unseen, as if they had done something shameful.

This is a subject that I think nearly all Americans, red or blue leaning, can agree on. I would urge everyone to write to thier Senators and Representatives demanding that any future appropriations bill funding the Iraqi conflict include wording that would remove the ban on photos of the coffins of returning killed service members.


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