Coffin issue a matter of respect

By Anita Tedaldi: CNJ columnist

If my husband died in combat, would I want the media to photograph his coffin as his body came home to me?

I can’t help getting choked up thinking about this grim scenario. I don’t even want to consider the possibility, let alone worry about whether I would want the press to be part of this private moment of loss.

Despite my resistance to thinking about it, this has been on my mind lately following Defense Secretary Gates’ announcement of a review of the policy that bars photographers from taking pictures of the return of coffins. This policy has a direct impact on military families, the people who live with the consequences of a loss far beyond what’s captured in a still photograph, but agonized over lifetimes.

As a journalist and military spouse, I’ve been on both sides of the fence, trying to get my ‘angle’ and being part of an angle, and I know military folks frame this debate differently than the press or policy-makers.

I speak as a military spouse when I say that it’s a personal issue and a scary one. I fear the media will violate my privacy when I want it most.