Controversy Continues Over Obama’s Proposal To Allow Media At Dover

February 22, 2009

Nothing is more solemn and heart wrenching, than the task of preparing the remains of a US Service Member for burial. In the United States, all remains are first taken to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, prior to the remains being released to the family for burial. For years the media has been banned from filming the flag draped caskets as they arrive at Dover, for the final preparation. After he was inagurated, President Barrack Obama and his administration proposed a review of the 1991 ban. The media of course is all for allowing them to be present when the remains of our fallen arrive at Dover, but they’re facing tough opposition from Veterans groups, such as the American Legion. Currently the media will often film parts of the funerals of our fallen warriors, but they’re not allowed at Dover. I feel that’s the correct thing, that the family members and our fallen deserve the respect and honor, without interference from the media. Too often the media tends to make the situation even harder on the families of the fallen.


Family members who’ve had to bury their loved ones after they lost their life in the Global War on Terror have mixed feelings. Some are vehamently opposed to the idea of media being present at Dover when their loved ones remains arrive, others have mixed feelings, while others feel that it’s okay as long as it’s done in good taste. The feelings of many veterans groups and military supporters is strongly opposed to lifting the ban.

“The practice would be intrusive and hurtful to the warriors’ families,” David K. Rehbein, American Legion national commander stated in a news release.1

Myself, I’m very opposed to the idea. Unfortunately many of the members of the national media today, don’t ever stop and think how their actions may affect the family members. So many times, the media has tended to sensationalize anything to do with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, often to the point of actually causing much more harm than good. I honestly don’t feel that allowing them to film our fallen soldiers remains being returned from the war zone will be any different. I feel that in doing this, all it will do is inflame people and denigrate the solemnity of the situation. The return of our fallen heroes should be dealt with in a professional and sensitive manner. I don’t feel that the media has the right to have any part in that.

If by change, this ban is rescinded, I feel that there should be extremely stringent guidelines. Prior to any photographs being published, they should have to be approved by the family of the fallen service member as well as by the military. I fear that if we allow the media free reign on this subject, that these photographs will be used in a negative light, in a way that is disrespectful to our fallen warriors and their families.

There are plenty who disagree with my thoughts about this. Take for instance, the president of the National Press Photographers Association, Bob Carey, who feels that “the ban on media coverage goes against the very principles of free speech and free exchange of ideas for which these very heroes have died.”2

The final outcome of this controversial subject, will continue to stir debate, sometimes very angry debate. I know for myself, had Marty or my son died in combat, I would be outraged if the media were allowed to film the return of their remains to Dover. I do feel, if changes are made, that it should be the sole decision of each individual family, whether the media is allowed to film the return of their fallen warrior. It’s definately something that should NOT be up to the politicians. I’m sure many people will be watching, to see what is decided and I’m sure it will continue to stir sometimes heated debate. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this subject.

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8 Responses to “Controversy Continues Over Obama’s Proposal To Allow Media At Dover”

  1. Mike on February 22nd, 2009 5:29 pm

    There is just no good reason to allow photography of the containers being returned through Dover. This is another pointless attempt by some news pimp to get photos to sell to those with an appetite for the macabre.

  2. Terri on February 22nd, 2009 6:02 pm

    I totally agree Mike. Allowing this will do nothing but heap more heartache upon the surviving family members and I just hope that the powers that be, have enough common human decency to see that nothing good whatsoever can come out of allowing the media in Dover.

  3. Cat on February 23rd, 2009 12:48 pm

    Death is unfortunate by-product of war. It is important for the american people to see this, and feel for the families. I remember how gung-ho everyone was when we entered into the Iraq war, they didn’t see the carnage or the caskets. Maybe people will take these images into account next time an unnecessary war looms.

  4. Terri on February 24th, 2009 6:46 pm

    I respectifully disagree with you Cat. I know as a mother and step mother of Soldiers as well as an Aunt of a Soldier and significant other of a retired Soldier, I would NOT want the casket bearing the remains of my loved one in the media for public display. I would vehemently oppose them doing so, regardless of my views of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s definately the families right to say NO to this.

  5. OEF_Veteran on February 25th, 2009 6:08 am

    I think we should allow photography. War is ugly and Americans need to know the price of war. We cannot sanitize war and forget about it because it doesn’t effect us. We all need to know the terrible price that people are paying. That price needs to be in our minds everyday…..lest we become apathetic and we no longer raise our voice in protest when our government sends young men and women to die.

  6. Some Soldier's Mom on February 25th, 2009 1:07 pm

    We do not hide our war dead. We publish their names; we tell their stories; we celebrate their lives and we mourn their deaths. Those who wish to honor our dead are welcome to join us in those measures. If it takes a photo of a flag-draped casket to inspire “honoring” our war dead or to prove to someone (other than soldiers and their families who need no reminding the horrors of war), then it’s not about respecting the dead. The photos of these caskets are so singularly subject to misuse and abuse, the ban should be continued. It should entirely be up to the next of kin to permit or deny access.

    As I have asked many times, what’s the point of lifting the ban? Is there a monetary or political profit to be made? Yes, I see. Maintain the ban.

  7. Terri on February 25th, 2009 6:35 pm

    Well said, Some Soldier’s Mom. Thanks for your input. I couldn’t agree more.

  8. Marianne on February 25th, 2009 7:16 pm

    No way the ban should be lifted - those who would lift the ban have readily admitted they’d like to do so to use the images to advance an idealogy, whatever the idealogy of the moment might be. The arrival of our fallen warriors at Dover is just one of many steps in a sacred military tradition to care for and honor our war dead. It is not a show, and it is not a tool for advancing the agenda of the day - it is military men and women bringing home their brethen with honor and dignity. The presence of the press would compromise this most sacred military tradition. Signed, another soldier’s mom

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