Controversy over returning military coffins

By Bob Hallmark - bio - email

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - It is a policy that has been in place since the first Gulf War back in 1991. Now, the President is considering changing that policy. East Texas families told us their thoughts on the controversy and how they want the privacy and dignity of war casualties returning home to remain private.

It is a sight we're familiar with, fallen troops being honored by family and communities.

"I think that that's an area that we should respect the rights and dignities of the families and servicemen as well," said A.J. Mason whose son is serving in Iraq.

The ban prohibits any photography of flag draped coffins returning to US soil, and everyone we talked with wants to keep it that way.

"I think you really need to put the families as priorities and not the public," said  Leslie Lebeck whose daughter is in the Air Force.

Vietnam veteran Kenneth James remembers a time before the ban, when he said the coffins became a propaganda tool.

"During the Vietnam War the coffins were coming back to Andrews Air Force Base back then they showed it on TV and it was a circus for the media," said Kenneth James who is a Vietnam veteran & Patriot Guard rider.

For most, it is a simple matter of respect.

"It's not just a box that they're taking a picture of," explained Lebeck. "That's somebody's daughter or son that they've just lost and to put it on the air like that I just don't see the point. How would you like for somebody to use you're child like that?"

Some worry that lifting the ban will open the door for those with dishonorable intentions.

"Protestors may show up and take pictures and use these pictures for protest," said James. "[There's a] possibility of it touring into an extreme media event and I can't think of any family that would want that."

"They're entitled to a right to privacy for this loved one certainly," said Jack Lanier who has a son in the Air Force. "I say give them dignity give them privacy if that's what they want."

"They have paid the ultimate sacrifice and we should respect them for that," said James.

So far, President Obama has not said when he will make a decision on the ban.

We want to know what you think. Do you think the media should be allowed to witness the return of caskets of soldiers when they come back from overseas? To answer our poll question just go to our home page. You can also leave comments about this story at the bottom of this page.