The real cost of war now unveiled

The secretary of defense’s decision to lift an 18-year ban on images of soldier coffins was a bold statement.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced last Thursday that the Pentagon will lift its 18-year ban on media images of U.S. soldiersâÄô coffins. This ban was originally instated by President George H.W. Bush just before the first Gulf War, and controversy still surrounds the decision. Some argue the ban was helpful to George H.W. Bush because it lessened the graphic coverage of the Gulf War. The decision to show the images will never change anyoneâÄôs mind that war is or is not atrocious and regrettable; however, the effect of these images is not insignificant. This ban will be lifted under the condition that any taking or release of pictures will have to be done with the express permission of the families of the fallen soldiers. The Pentagon is currently discussing how best to confirm permission. This policy change is a comfortable way to address a highly sensitive issue: The more choice allowed to the families, the better. For those families wishing to share the sacrifice of their sons and daughters with the world, this policy change provides them the opportunity to make that choice. Alternately, for those families desiring privacy and quiet reverence for their loved oneâÄôs remains, that option is also available. We commend Gates and his staff for making a bold statement and returning this right to American families. There is no indication of how many families will opt to give permission for the depiction of their soldiersâÄô flag-draped coffins. The familyâÄôs right to choose, however, is a great compromise in response to the ban. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Indiana Daily Student at Indiana University. Please send comments to [email protected]