Fallen Soldiers

Military Families Welcome Press

Since the ban on media coverage of the arrival of fallen soldiers at Dover Air Force Base was lifted, some 60 percent of families have chosen to allow press at the occasion. An additional 15 percent have chosen to allow only military camera crews to document the ceremony. The highly controversial ban, enacted during the Persian Gulf War, was intended to protect the privacy of dead solders' families, but came under intense criticism as the Iraq wars intensified, when it was seen by many as an attempt to hide the rising number of casualties. In April, the Obama administration allowed families to decide if press could attend. The military, anxious that families who allowed media coverage would be disappointed by low turnouts, introduced the option of a military camera crew in August. Those turnout expectations have largely borne out; while some arrivals have been heavily covered, many are attended by only a singe photographer from the Associated Press, which says "somewhere there is a hometown, a family, a newspaper for whom the homecoming of the soldier is very important news."