Friday, February 27, 2009

Supreme sacrifice

Photograph by Todd Heisler/Rocky Mountain News

From yesterday's NY Times:

WASHINGTON — In a reversal of an 18-year-old military policy that critics said was hiding the ultimate cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the news media will now be allowed to photograph the coffins of America’s war dead as their bodies are returned to the United States, but only if the families of the dead agree.
The story goes on to say that defense secretary Robert Gates was “ 'never comfortable' with the ban, [and] tried to have it overturned a year ago. But he said he encountered resistance in the Pentagon, and so he 'demurred.' ”

Some want the ban kept in place.

In 2005, a newspaper photographer and reporter "chronicled a year in the life of Major Steve Beck, a Marine casualty assistance officer, as he guided several families through the grief and ritual of saying goodbye to loved ones lost in Iraq." They were awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for their work.

The images, in my opinion, are some of the most searing, powerful and dignified photographs ever published in a newspaper.

You can read the story here and see the images here.

The reporter who wrote the story was Jim Sheeler and the photographer was Todd Heisler.

Both worked for the Rocky Mountain News, which published its final edition today after serving Denver for 150 years.

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