Should the media cover military funerals

Fired ANC Public Affairs office

Fired Arlington National Cemetery Public Affairs officer

Hopefully my 18 month academic lobotomy at Georgetown will ensure that I make sound decisions when I graduate and embrace the media.

Recently the Public Affairs director at Arlington National Cemetery was fired for honoring a fallen Soldier’s family’s request to allow media at their loved ones funeral.  In April, one funeral was reported on by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post.  Today he has a full article about Gina Gray getting the “boot”.

In small towns across America there are monuments to honor our fallen Soldiers.  Remembering those killed in action is a necessary to keep the civilian citizenry engaged in the sacrifice Service members make while they “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic.”

Attending the funeral for Second Lieutenant Lisa N. Bryant at Arlington National Cemetery is an event I will never, ever forget.  I saw a similar event depicted on Army Wives and was touching but not quite the same.  The Soldiers of the Old Guard caissons platoon are among our Army’s finest ambassadors.  Their story and the story of the heroes who make the ultimate sacrifice on battlefields should be told.

I won’t speculate on any families reason to have media at a funeral.  What I do know is we celebrate our fallen heroes all the time.  Just a few weeks ago there many hours of live coverage of Tim Russert’s funeral and; Metro (Washington’s mass transit system) had it’s highest number of passengers during President Reagan’s state funeral.

This is all interesting to me.  There’s a balance between policy and free press.  Here’s an example of conflict between the two.  Most often the military has a hamonius and mutually beneficial relationship with the media.

What’s your opinion?  Have you ever been to a military funeral?


2 Responses to Should the media cover military funerals

  1. Barbara says:

    Gina Gray DID THE RIGHT THING! I too was a PAO at Arlington and had the same problem. I’d hire her in a minute. Arlington Cemetery regulations state the primary NOK can authorize media. Period. Look up CFR 32; ask to see the Military District of Washington’s Public Affairs Guidance for Arlington National Cemetery.

    If a wife or mother invites the media to honor their fallen husband or son–they have the right to do so.

    Miss Gray– you call me and I’ll hire you.

  2. Wendy says:

    Every military family has the right to request or deny the media at the funeral of their loved one. It isn’t up to a bunch of stoddy old men who have nothing but their own interests, to make the decision for them. As always, the Army gets it wrong AGAIN.
    They keep hoping that the american public won’t notice the number of dead from Iraq and now Afghanistan…

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