I admit, I wept openly when I saw this picture.
I didn’t realize policy forbidding the media from photographing our Fallen coming home has been in place since President George H.W. Bush.
Even President Bill Clinton did not attend this solemn ceremony. President Clinton did not attend a funeral of a fallen warrior. Neither did President George W. Bush — although President Bush did meet privately with family members of the Fallen. To his credit. And I thank him for that.
President Abraham Lincoln had a home across from a cemetary during the Civil War. At times, he saw 30 fresh graves dug a day.
President Obama traveled overnight to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans killed in military service this week, the height of the bloodiest month for the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan.
In an unannounced trip in the middle of the night, the president went to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware by Marine helicopter to be present for the arrival of the bodies of the fallen troops.
The solemn visit was the first of its kind for Obama, and comes as he is withdrawing troops from Iraq but contemplating a troop increase in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, Obama spoke to sailors and aviators at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida, where he promised that he would count the full cost of war before deciding to send more military into harm’s way.
“Obviously it was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day — not only our troops, but their families as well,” Obama said later today, at the White House. “And so Michelle and I are constantly mindful of those sacrifices.
“And obviously the burden that both our troops and our families bear in any wartime situation is going to bear on how I see these conflicts,” said Obama, deliberating over the way forward in Afghanistan. “It is something that I think about each and every day.”
The administration this year lifted a longstanding ban on media coverage of the return of fallen service members. Obama was accompanied by a small pool of White House reporters who were on duty overnight.
Of course this visit was appropriate. I found it incredibly moving just seeing the President of the United States saluting while one of our fallen hero’s is brought home to rest.
No, President GWB did not do this. Neither did Bill Clinton, unless someone can recall otherwise.
We waited a long time to see this.
Regardless of his or her policies, the President of the United States stands as a symbol. He represents the United States of America. And it is entirely appropriate that he stand at attention, periodically, when our Fallen are brought home.
Our Fallen deserve this honor.
I hope he does it again. He needs to keep in touch with the fact that each casualty is a real fallen human being, with a real family. George W. Bush may have met with families privately — and I respect him for that — but some surrounding him in his administration were often glib when asked about the fallen soldiers.
The president needs to do this to keep in touch. And we need to see it happen.