Friday, 27 February 2009

U.S. Highway

The 20-year ban on media coverage of American war dead being returned to U.S. soil has been lifted and we have to wonder if Ontario's much publicized Highway of Heroes influenced the Obama administration.

The change in Pentagon policy allows relatives of the dead to decide whether they want media coverage of flag-draped coffins being removed from transport planes at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Apparently, many relatives do and politicians and generals be damned.

(The Dover base's web site says: "Under the blanket restriction, the media has been barred from photographing the flag-draped caskets of about 3,850 U.S. service members killed in action since 2001.)

Out of sight, out of mind. There would be no Highway of Heroes for Canada's fallen if we had adopted that policy. Sun Media's Pete Fisher is a dedicated Highway of Heroes photographer. His special YouTube tribute has drawn more than 1,500 hits.

Canadians have honoured the 108 soldiers who have fallen in Afghanistan. We have seen their photographs and read stories about their lives. We have shared in the sadness of their flag-covered caskets being removed from transport planes in Trenton. And we have welcomed them home along the motorcade route to Toronto.

What it says to relatives of the fallen is you are not alone. Your loss is our loss.

Watch Pete's tribute and then watch CNN coverage of the decision to lift the ban in the U.S. and decide for yourselves if sharing the grief is more dignified and respectful than hiding the grief.

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