As I was browsing www.photosthatchangedtheworld.com, I clicked on a picture depicting dead American soldiers in 1943 on a shore of New Guinea. The caption describes that LIFE was only able to print these graphic images at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and it really got me thinking:
A momentous first act as President in 2009 would be to end the Pentagon's disturbing ban on pictures of our brothers and sisters returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan in coffins. It would be a very honest and effective way to erode support for these wars and bring our troops home where they belong. That they are currently swept out of view and hidden from the public to preserve enthusiasm for ongoing military operations is disgusting.
Of course the argument goes that flag-draped coffins are kept out of the media so as to be respectful to the slain troops' families and I understand what they're getting at, but they're wrong. If you're talking about graphic war photography (like the ones FDR released, ironically, to increase support for WWII), then there may be a sensitivity issue about printing. But when the photos in question are neat rows of flag-draped coffins, one has to admit they are significantly "sanitized" and are not of identifiable people. They died in horrible circumstances for us and we can't even look at anonymous boxes with their remains!?! Is the pain and guilt that intense? I think it is. That is why it is illegal to print those photos now and why the next President should change that.
Note- I say 'next President', but who are we kidding? McCain wouldn't do this for obvious reasons. I'm not sure Obama would. But think of the truth and emotion that would wash over America if we were allowed to even glimpse upon the caskets of our returning heroes. (this stock photo is relatively old and accompanies nearly every article written about this issue).