Editorial: Lift on media ban lets public fully acknowledge heroes

For nearly 18 years, the United States government imposed one of the most questionable, yet overlooked limitations on the media, prohibiting photographers from covering the return of war casualties.

That changed on Sunday when the Pentagon lifted the ban, giving victims’ families discretion on whether the media would be allowed to cover the return of a fallen loved one.

The Pentagon made the right call in lifting the ban.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states the government shall place no restrictions on freedom of speech or press.

Yet for 18 years, the U.S. government got away with keeping the media from photographing men and women who proudly served their country.

For 18 years, the government kept the media from portraying these men and women as what they really are: heroes.

Thursday night marked the first time the media was allowed to cover the return of a war casualty since the ban was lifted.

The family of Lance Cpl. Blaise A. Oleski of Floyd, N.Y., gave permission for media coverage as his body was scheduled to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del., the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

For the first time in 18 years, Americans have been given access to one of the most solemn occasions the 22-year-old’s family has ever faced.

It’s a saddening image, but it’s something that should always be remembered.

Regardless of political ideology, this young man should be commended for his service, for putting his life on the line to protect the ideals our country represents.

Furthermore, the Pentagon should be applauded for giving families final say in the matter of media coverage.

For too long, the government had full control over how war casualties were approached, seemingly sweeping them under the rug as if they were some kind of discouragement.

Now, families are allowed to give the media and the public full access to the return of loved ones who lived and died for their country.

Not only is it a victory for the media, but also a victory for the ideals Oleski died to protect.

And because the ban was lifted, the nation is allowed to honor heroes’ return home as they unfold and will remember the sacrifice each one made for America.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at: [email protected].