Saturday, September 25, 2010

coffin compassion

A picture in yesterday's paper was part of an editorial about DADT. It showed the interior of an Air Force C-130 filled with flag-draped coffins. The caption read: "which one is the gay soldier?" The picture and caption were the editorial.

Seeing the picture-- while the surrounding text was a blur without my glasses-- reminded me of the controversy surrounding the ban of photographing and publishing soldiers' coffins during the Bush administration, and the lifting of that ban that took place shortly after Obama took office. Bush's rationale aside, I recall that an argument in favor of the ban was that photos taken of coffins was an invasion of privacy of the families of those fallen soldiers. I have a different take on this issue that I never saw reported (which doesn't mean it wasn't). The photo here speaks to it.

With all due respect to the families of soldiers killed in the service of their country, I don't see how the publishing of photographs showing coffins is an invasion of privacy. As the caption in yesterday's paper implies, the remains in any coffin viewed in such a setting are anonymous. We don't know who, specifically, is in those coffins. What we know is that a soldier lost his or her life, most likely in combat.

It is important to me to see these pictures for the following reasons. It affords me an opportunity to take a moment to pray for those who have died and for their families and loved ones. It brings home to me the sacrifices made by our soldiers and their families. As the (step) mother of a soldier who served six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, it reminds me to give thanks that his life was spared in the face of the dangers that were inherent in his missions.

I'd like to think that if I were standing on the tarmac at Dover AFB receiving the coffin that held my son I would not take offense at a photograph that included his coffin. I believe, instead, that I would feel pride that in this poignant moment of face-slapping reality, his life and his loss would be captured for all the world to see. It is images such as these that keep us from becoming complacent about the personal cost of war. If a photograph depicting my personal loss could serve as such a reminder, I believe I would be glad, and grateful for its existence.

This view has nothing to do with politics. It's not about whether or not we should be at war. It's about human hearts, loss and grief, and how we are all connected to one another. It's my point of view.


Sandy said...

Well said! Thank you very much!

Kip said...

I totally agree!

karen said...

Amen, sister...I so agree with you!

KimQuiltz said...


Mompriest said...


Jayne said...

..."It is images such as these that keep us from becoming complacent about the personal cost of war."...

That is exactly the thought I was thinking as I was reading your very well written and thoughtful post. By NOT seeing them, we forget the sacrifice. It's as if it is happening in a vacuum.

Jan said...


Carolina Linthead said...

Amen. May light perpetual shine upon them, and may the peace of God be upon their loved ones.

Thank you, alter ego.

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