The WaPo’s Dana Milbank lets us know about a family that wanted the world to see their son, husband and father laid to rest — but was thwarted by the Pentagon:
Lt. Col. Billy Hall, one of the most senior officers to be killed in the Iraq war, was laid to rest yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Pentagon doesn’t want you to know that.
The family of 38-year-old Hall, who leaves behind two young daughters and two stepsons, gave their permission for the media to cover his Arlington burial — a decision many grieving families make so that the nation will learn about their loved ones’ sacrifice. But the military had other ideas, and they arranged the Marine’s burial yesterday so that no sound, and few images, would make it into the public domain.
That’s a shame, because Hall’s story is a moving reminder that the war in Iraq, forgotten by much of the nation, remains real and present for some. Among those unlikely to forget the war: 6-year-old Gladys and 3-year-old Tatianna. The rest of the nation, if it remembers Hall at all, will remember him as the 4,011th American service member to die in Iraq, give or take, and the 419th to be buried at Arlington. Gladys and Tatianna will remember him as Dad.
The two girls were there in Section 60 yesterday beside grave 8,672 — or at least it appeared that they were from a distance. Journalists were held 50 yards from the service, separated from the mourning party by six or seven rows of graves, and staring into the sun and penned in by a yellow rope. Photographers and reporters pleaded with Arlington officials.
"There will be a yellow rope in the face of the next of kin," protested one photographer with a large telephoto lens.
"This is the best shot you’re going to get," a man from the cemetery replied.
"We’re not going to be able to hear a thing," a reporter argued.
"Mm-hmm," an Arlington official answered.
This is part of the Bush team’s strategy of doing their level best to hide the true costs of their war of choice from us. It’s not just funerals that BushCo wants kept out of our sight. Here’s some of what they’re trying to hide:
— The sight of the dead and wounded — on both the US and Iraqi sides.
— The fact that a big fat bright line can be drawn from our crappy economic situation straight to the trillions spent in Iraq.
— The fact that gas at the pump has doubled in price since the invasion and will keep getting more expensive, not less. (This, by the way, is the opposite of what the Bushies promised would happen back in 2002.)
The Bushies want Americans to think that the war doesn’t really affect them. But it does, and it’s our job to point this out, over and over again. There have been some efforts in the mainstream press (such as this one), but they’re few and far between compared to stuff on the order of "The surge is working!" and "Petraeus is God".