There is an honesty that has been returned to our nation with the decision by the Obama Administration to allow for public openness and viewing of the returning dead coming back from war. By denying the full picture of the consequences of war, as was practiced during the years Bush was in the White White House, only played into the hands of those who used this type of closed-picture policy for political purposes. Last night we again saw what it looks like when diplomacy fails, and war is the chosen path to resolve issues.
The wind can whip cold across the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, freezing fingers that hold the flag-draped metal transfer case in which lie the remains of a fellow service member. You do not loosen your grip. You do not shuffle your feet. You do not grimace.
If you have to yawn, you do it through your nose. You swallow your coughs and sneezes, let itches go unscratched. Keep your mouth closed, eyes straight and the blinking to an absolute minimum.
Those are the rules.
Those are the rules when it’s 4 a.m. and it’s dark and there’s no one around.
Those were the rules last night when the ritual of welcoming home the fallen was open to the public for the first time since President George H.W. Bush instituted a ban on news coverage in 1991.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip A. Myers, 30, of Hopewell, Va., who was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday in the explosion of a makeshift bomb, became the first service member welcomed home publicly in 18 years. Myers, who was attached to the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron based in England, was awarded a Bronze Star last year for his service in Iraq, according to the Air Force.
Myers’s wife and other relatives attended the 17-minute ceremony, which began shortly after 11 last night at the Air Force base. Except for the command “Present Arms,” it was conducted in silence.
“It doesn’t matter what the conditions are like — cold, wet, sunny,” said Sgt. James Rhett of the Army’s Old Guard. “They’re a fallen soldier, and they deserve the highest respect and honor we can give.”