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Defense Secretary Gates Reviews Ban on Photographing Coffins of Fallen Soldiers
source: New York Times


Military personnel escorting coffins at Dover Air Force Base in one of hundreds of photographs the Pentagon released in 2004.
Agence France-Presse



The Canadian procession travels to a morgue in Toronto along Highway 401. That stretch of roadway has been renamed the Highway of Heroes, and hundreds of people often come out and pay their respects as a convoy passes.

The procession in Britain, from Lyneham to a mortuary in Oxford, first passes through Wootton Bassett, a small town that has become the nation's funeral parlor. Hundreds of people line the streets there in silent tribute.

At Dover the repatriation process takes place out of public view. The mortuary is on the air base, so no public procession takes place. When they first banned representatives of the news media, military officials said that if cameras were allowed at Dover, most families would feel compelled to go there, often under emotional and financial duress. Many wait instead for a military escort to bring their loved ones home, where there is often an outpouring of support by local residents, and some families allow news coverage of the funeral.

In April 2006, Canadian officials briefly imposed a news blackout on the arrival ceremonies for the coffins, saying they wanted to protect the families' privacy. Critics said the government was trying to protect itself from antiwar sentiment; they included several families who said the public ceremonies and shows of sympathy had given them some comfort.

A month later the government reversed course and allowed families to decide for themselves. The only caveat was that all immediate next of kin had to agree on the decision. If they did not, access was denied.


   







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