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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Not sure how I feel about this....

PLEASE NOTE - this is a sensitive subject matter. And one that is personally close to my heart - if you are offended... well... I'm sorry. But please, try to understand this is my life, this is my blog...

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Media allowed to cover another casualty returning


By RANDALL CHASE, Associated Press Writer Randall Chase, Associated Press Writer

DOVER, Del. – On a cold April night, under a bright moon, the body of Army Specialist Israel Candelaria Mejias arrived at Dover Air Force Base in a flag-draped aluminum case. Mejias, of San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, was killed by an improvised explosive device Sunday while serving in Iraq.

His return Tuesday marked the second time this week members of the media were allowed to witness a U.S. combat casualty being brought back from overseas, ending the Pentagon's 18-year ban on such coverage.

Mejias' body arrived in Delaware shortly before 8:30 p.m. aboard a C-17 military cargo jet from Ramstein, Germany.

A little more than hour later, an eight-member team from the Army's Old Guard in Washington, D.C., slowly walked up the rear ramp of the C-17 and into the cargo hold, where an advance team from the military mortuary at Dover stood quiet sentinel over the fallen soldier's body.
Following the white-gloved carry team were Col. Robert Edmondson, commander of the mortuary affairs operations, chaplain Maj. Klavens Noel, and Brig. Gen. Walter Davis, director of Army aviation.

Davis and Edmondson bowed their heads as Noel recited a brief prayer. The carry team then gently picked up the case bearing the soldier's body and carried it to a waiting vehicle for transport to the mortuary, where it will be processed and returned to the family.

Tuesday's event took only about 12 minutes, roughly half the time needed for the dignified transfer of the body of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers, which arrived Sunday aboard a contract Boeing 747 and had to be lowered about 20 feet to the tarmac. Myers, 30, of Hopewell, Va., was killed by an IED in Afghanistan.

While both families consented to media coverage of the return of their loved ones, neither consented to be photographed or interviewed.

The media ban was put in place by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, during the Persian Gulf War. From the start, it was cast as a way to shield grieving families.

But critics argued the government was trying to hide the human cost of war. President Barack Obama asked for a review, resulting in a new policy under which families of fallen servicemen will decide whether to allow media coverage of their return. If several bodies arrive on the same flight, news coverage will be allowed only for those whose families have given permission.

Mejias was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment in Task Force 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Grafenwoehr, Germany.

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At first I have to tell you that when I read this article I was totally outraged! How dare they! The death of a soldier is such a private and emotional event. How could they even think it was ok??? And then if you count the shadows at the bottom of the photo there are at least eight reporters there.... such a media spectacle!!! For the death of a HERO!!! Are you kidding me!!!

But then.... after I sat here for a while (yes it truly is 2:30 AM in the morning while I am writing this) - I though maybe the public NEEDS to see this - maybe some people need to realize that it truly is people lives on the line to defend our freedoms, our rights. Their right to go drink Starbucks coffee on the way to work, the ability for their children to be able to walk to school with out someone shooting at them or bombs going off around them......

Our society in my own humble opinion is such a greed society - we only think of ourselves.... I think people have become very complacent since 9/11. They don't see "the need" for us to be in Iraq, to be in Afghanistan. But yet these are the same people that were effected, hurt, outraged that someone would possible even thinking of attacking us 6 1/2 years ago. So maybe this IS what people need to see. What will make them understand. What will make them appreciate what they have and what some people are willing to sacrifice. For them... for our way of life... for our country.

I don't know.... I'm really torn.....

But even more than that... I'm really sad.

7 comments:

jzayler April 8, 2009 at 8:42 AM  

Lori, you brought a tear to my eye. I have been checking your blog for a few weeks,yes for the GREAT freebies, but also because you seem so sincere and honest. As close as I come to the war is a friend who served 3 term in Afghanistan & Iraq (and came back troubled with nightmares and who knows what else). I think we do need to see these fallen heros returned (but just of the return to American soil - the media has no business getting any farther involved in the greiving families lives). We do need to be reminded that every minute of every day some great man or woman is risking their life for our freedom and every day of every life their loved ones are home praying for their safe return. God Bless you Lori and your family and THANK YOU! Its not nearly a big enough thank you but its as big as I can type it here!

Ileana April 8, 2009 at 9:14 AM  

Lori,
I am also torn by this but there is one thing that I'm afraid will be missed in all of this.

If you look closely at the pictures, you can see the utmost level of love, respect and care given to our fallen heroes by their fellow soldiers. Patriot duty is one of the hardest tasks for our troops to do but they always step forward with honor and love. For that, I am immensely proud.

Elizabeth April 8, 2009 at 9:27 AM  

You know.. this is exactly why I do not watch the news anymore about Iraq or Afganistan. Many do not understand nor grasp the concept of what a soldier goes through and gives up for his/her country.

Diane April 8, 2009 at 2:21 PM  

Oh Lori -- I am from Canada and this is one way that we honour our war dead. When our soldiers are repatriated at CFB Trenton they then proceed along what is now known as the Highway of Heroes to the cornoner in Toronto. Thousands of us (me included) stand on the overpasses on this stretch of highway and salute our soldiers as they come home for the last time. From what we have heard from the families who accompany their loved ones remains they are truly humbled by this outpouring of support for their sons/daughters/husbands/wives/brothers/sisters. It is truly humbling on all of us. If you do a search for Highway of Heroes on Youtube you will see just what I am talking about. We all share the families grief when it is for a soldier who has fought so valiantly for freedom.

Deb C,  April 8, 2009 at 3:41 PM  

Thanks for posting Diana
I too am from Canada
I think it is important for the
repatriation to take place. But it should be done with quiet respect.
It should not be a media circus and not to show the grief of the family. If it is not covered the general public will never realize that they were real people with families and friends who cared - And all nations should grieve and realize how many young lives have been lost. And we should remember the injured ones as well

Margie April 8, 2009 at 3:53 PM  

I do think that people need to see this-as long as the family of the soldiers consent-because it is far to easy to get wrapped up in our own lives, and forget that there is a war going on, that people are actually dying, giving their lives for us! I know that it certainly makes me sit up and think about it more. I think that we need more of a public sense of what our country stands to lose if it were not for these HEROES who are willing to give their lives for us! America needs to achieve a level of patriotism like it had in WWII, when the average, everyday family actually gave things up in support of our troops and military, whether they had a family member fighting or not. That being said, I do feel it is the right of each individual soldier's family to choose whether they wish to grieve alone, or have the nation mourn with them. Hugs to you and I would like to echo what a previous poster said and say THANK YOU !!!!!

Caroline April 10, 2009 at 7:03 AM  

I just wanted to add my bit on this thread. I live in Australia and we too are losing brave men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day. Just recently Australia has lost several soldiers in Afghanistan and I believe it is important for all peoples to acknowledge that these soldiers died to protect our freedom, and that means media getting involved (tastefully and with respect). I am not wording this nearly as eloquently as previous posters, but I did want you to know that I am greatful to all those willing to lay their lives on the line for me and my family, whether from Australia, America or somewhere else, and I just want to say Thanks!

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