Hiding flag-draped coffins for respect or expediency?

Regarding Daniel Schorr's April 30 Column "Why hide flag-draped coffins": As a professional soldier, I never felt that the ban on photographing coffins or remains returning from overseas was intended to "hide" anything. It's merely a measure of respect and dignity to those men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It's also a matter of respect for their families. Respect, dignity, and common courtesy should stand above any political statement that would be made by allowing these photos to be distributed. Do not make a spectacle of our young men and women's performance and sacrifice, and do not use them or their families to make a political statement. Allow us to grieve when necessary with dignity and respect without making a spectacle of it.
William H. West
Sierra Visa, Ariz.

As the father of a fallen marine, I would not want a group of coffins shown for the simple reason that there is no control over how that photo might be used. These photos could further someone else's political agenda (right or left), and demoralize the troops or the country that's supporting them. As for President Bush not attending military burial services, do you really think, with all the security surrounding the president, that any family would want that? I can say, however, that Mr. Bush has been very attentive to families in private. We lost our son, Marine Cpl. Patrick Nixon, on March 23, 2003. On April 4, the president and Mrs. Bush met with many families in private to express their sympathies, and Bush said how proud he was to have such wonderfully brave men under his command. He was truly sincere and he is a great president.
David Nixon
Gallatin, Tenn.

The White House's refusal to allow the public to view the flag-draped coffins from Iraq and Afghanistan shows the Bush administration is insensitive to what the public wants. That viewing gives the people of our nation an opportunity to offer a silent prayer for the loved ones of our fallen heroes. It is a meaningful way to pay tribute to the ones who sacrificed their lives. It also reminds us of the horrors of war. The White House does not want the flag-draped coffins displayed because the premature deaths of our young men and women reflect badly on our commander in chief, who committed them to fight in an unnecessary war.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
Louisville, Ky.

Defending financial-aid counselors

Regarding your April 27 article "Not enough financial aid? Seek counseling": That there is a market for financial-aid counselors certainly attests to the challenges of making college affordable. It might be easy to infer from some of the counselors' comments, however, that school financial-aid administrators are adversarial, uncaring, and inexplicably inclined to withhold financial aid under certain circumstances.

The suggestion that "most letters [seeking assistance] wind up in the trash" is certainly at odds with our practice at Hollins University, where 96 percent of students receive some form of grant or scholarship. Financial-aid directors at all colleges and universities are committed to doing as much as they can to satisfy needs within the context of the aid budget they are given. And they are just as committed to providing parents and prospective students with the best advice available on how to alleviate the financial strain.

At the end of the day, if we can put a Hollins education within reach of just one student who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it, we have accomplished something.
Rebecca Eckstein
Roanoke, Va.
The writer is director of financial aid and scholarships for Hollins University.

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