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Draped With a Flag, but There's No Coverage

June 26, 2004

"Ban on Coverage of War Dead Upheld" (June 22) says, "The Senate refused on Monday to change a Pentagon policy banning media coverage of America's war dead as their remains arrive in flag-draped caskets." How many times have you heard those soldiers in Iraq say they are "fighting for their country"? Isn't that supposedly the reason that encourages them to sacrifice their lives? The last time I looked, they and we are the country.

Those who return in coffins are the most important members of our American family. They left the privacy of their families to become the ultimate public servants. Recently, another public servant's flag-draped coffin was viewed and paraded coast to coast for five days. Many mourned and wept. Was that public servant more important than those who die for their country? We are denied a glimpse of those coffins that are deserving of public tribute, and a right to mourn and weep for those who make the greatest sacrifice. They now belong to the ages, and they belong to all of us.

In an era of an uncertain war and in an election year it appears the Bush people would find our dead soldiers' presence to be politically incorrect.

Ken Johnson

Pinon Hills

If my spouse or child had been killed in the military in Iraq, I would want a Marine Corps marching band at Dover Air Force Base -- and perhaps even a Clinton-style hug from a White House representative or, failing that, perhaps a personal phone call from President Bush expressing condolences. And pictures and a story in the newspapers. Maybe even an item on the television evening news.

For the U.S. Senate to cite "privacy reasons" in upholding the ban on media coverage of the deaths of our war heroes is presumptuous and self-serving. Sneaking the caskets in at the dead of night, as though we are ashamed of them, is insulting to the memories of the fallen. Perhaps we should ask the next of kin what they would want for their loved ones.

Walter Maloney

Los Angeles

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