Monday, February 16, 2009

Bringing it home

President Obama, consistent with his promise of transparency, has opened up discussion on the possibility of permitting the American public to get a first hand look at the costs of war. Since 1991, the policy of our government has been to deny the right of our media to show images of flag draped coffins on their final journey on American soil.

"If the needs of the families can be met, and the privacy concerns can be addressed, the more honor we can accord these fallen heroes, the better. So I'm pretty open to whatever the results of this review may be." (Defense Secretary Robert Gates, at a Pentagon news conference on Tuesday, February 10)

Why was the impact of 9/11 so dramatic? It was real because it was happening to us. We could see it, we could feel it, we could touch it, we could breathe it. There have been tragedies involving American lives lost abroad in terrorist attacks, but they were there and we are here. Tragedies on foreign soil are often too disconnected from our own world to retain their importance.

Why were the recent election results principally determined by the economic crisis? It was felt in our pocketbooks and in our heads. This was not some abstract discussion by the government of the merits and deficiencies regarding some policy that might effect us. This was happening inside our homes.

Until the impact of the war is in our eyes and part of our being, its meaning will be diminished. While the debate focuses on the morality of making personal tragedy public, it is making a public tragedy feel personal that really drives this argument.

It would be a disservice to those in the military to continue to be brought to their final resting place under cover of darkness. They deserve better and we need to truly understand the consequences of our decisions. Only in the brightness of the daylight will we all be able to see what we have wrought.


Anonymous said...

Send this somewhere--maybe to TIME. It's great.

Robert said...

thank you for the compliment


Anonymous said...

This is so well said. Hopefully the current administration will change things soon.


Robert said...

I also thank you for the compliment. This is but one of a thousand questions this administration must answer.