Monday, December 20, 2004

Rumsfeld criticized for having machine sign condolence letters |
"In a statement Friday, Rumsfeld announced the change in policy and said more than 1,000 condolence letters had gone out to relatives of Americans killed in military action during the global fight against terrorism.
'While I have not individually signed each one, in the interest of ensuring expeditious contact with grieving family members, I have directed that in the future I sign each letter,' Rumsfeld said in the statement.
'I am deeply grateful for the many letters I have received from the families of those who have been killed in the service of our country, and I recognize and honor their personal loss,' he said."

I can understand families who have lost loved ones wanting to know that the Secretary of Defense really cares about their greivous loss when one of our brave military is killed. My sympathy goes out to the families and friends of those who have given their all in defense of this country.

That said, personalized letters with a mechanical signature surely is better than the telegrams sent to families in WWII. Did each family of the
58,000+ in Vietnam receive personally signed letters from the then Secretary of Defense? Were the bodies of the fallen escorted home by military in these other conflicts? I don't know for certain, but I do not think so. I was not part of the family yet when my brother-in-law came home but from what my husband told me, their was some representation at the interment and the family was given the folded flag. The notification of death to my mother-in-law, while her two sons were overseas in the military was the traditional "we regret to to inform you" telegram. The telegram and flag were saved. I think if letters from the Secretary of Defense and/or President were sent, these too would have been saved.

The fact that Sec. Rumsfeld composed a personal condolence letter and made the arrangements for families to receive them seems an improvement from previous wars. Personal notification by members of the military appears to be the manner in which families are now made aware of the loss of one of our brave heros. Protection of privacy by not allowing continual TV coverage of flag draped coffins, widely criticized by some, spares the families of continual, unexpected and grim reminders of their loss at times they may be able to focus on something else for a brief respite in their grief. The brief TV coverage of how honorably the dead are treated from the battlefield to their final resting place is evidence that the administration cares for both the fallen and the family.

So Secretary Rumsfeld will now personally sign each condolence letter. What other thing will the politicians now have to posture about.

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