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Photos of the fallen

February 20, 2009

Re "America can handle the coffins," Opinion, Feb. 18

As usual, Tim Rutten's column is interesting, thoroughly researched, well written -- and totally wrong.

The government's ban on the release of photos or video of the remains of American soldiers was instituted in 1991 for one simple, compelling reason: The United States of America does not desecrate its war dead.

If President Obama lifts this ban, we can expect to see these sacred images in shrill, partisan attack ads, from both Rutten's side of the aisle and mine, that would exploit our fallen heroes -- their bodies, mind you -- for craven political purposes.

As Rutten observes, the American people are not infants. We do not require visual aids to understand the costs of war, nor cynical media campaigns to comprehend what is meant by the last full measure of devotion. Here's hoping that our new president, in his infinite wisdom, does not add the lifting of this ban to his already impressive list of blunders.

Ned Rice

Marina del Rey


My survey of families of the fallen indicates that more than 90% say no to taking pictures of flag-covered coffins before families can have a private moment to welcome their hero home.

My son, Spc. Daniel P. Cagle, died in Iraq in May 2007. I want to remember how and why he lived, what he fought for and his bravery. Families deserve those first moments out of the public eye to say their final hellos and goodbyes.

Yes, people should remember that these young men and women sacrifice everything for us here at home -- but let us remember why they lived. Do not reduce their service to a flag-draped box. My son believed in what he was doing, and I believe in him.

Gail Johnson-Roth

Los Angeles


Whether I returned unscathed, wounded or dead, I would want to be greeted upon my return from service.

Grace Shammas


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