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Monday, August 20, 2007

Editorial: Honor the Fallen

The media is prone to being easily distracted by spectacle. So, it should have been no surprise that when a mine collapsed in Utah, just about two hours south of where I'm writing this editorial, the 24 hour news networks set up shop and have pretty much been on the story 24/7. It is a tragedy that 3 rescue workers have died, and that the 6 missing miners are most likely dead as well. It is frustrating that despite warnings, and previous disasters, there hasn't been a whole lot done to make mines safer. But what is most troublesome is the fact that it seems that the media, by giving far too much coverage and time on one isolated disaster, are making the losses of those 3 rescuers and 6 miners lives' a greater tragedy, when compared to what is going on in the rest of the world. I do not wish to be insensitive to the miners' families, or the families of the rescue workers. My heart goes out to them. Any untimely death is a tragedy.
But while the news media was reporting on any and all news, even speculation, out of the Crandall Canyon mine, nearly unreported were the deaths of Staff Sgt. Jacob M. Thompson, 26, Sgt. Nicholas A. Gummersall, 23,Cpl. Juan M. Alcantara, 22, Spc. Kareem R. Khan, 20, who died in Baqubah, Iraq, when their vehicle struck an IED. Or Spc. Christopher T. Neiberger, 22, of Gainesville, Fla., who died in Baghdad, Iraq, also from an IED explosion. And all of theoe deaths were just the on August 6th, the day of the mine collapse. Since that day, 27 US Service men and women were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as were 5 Multi-national forces.
There is a disconnect in this country between those who actually fight our wars, and those who wage those wars, and those who staunchly support those wars. And a large part of the blame for that disconnect belongs to the media, for not putting the human faces on these Americans who died serving our country. And even from a list of names like this, we still don't get the full effect of what each one of these deaths means, to their families, to their children, and to our nation collectively.
The news may quickly report that on August 12th 3 US soldiers were killed from an IED explosion, and then go to the the hottest Hollywood gossip, or the speculation of a presidential campaign over a year away. What they don't tell you is that one of those soldiers who passed away;Staff Sgt. Jesse G. Clowers, Jr., 27, of Virginia, who died on the 12th in Afghanistan, was counting down the days until he could see his newborn daughter for the first time. Or that Marine Sgt. Jon E. Bonnell Jr, 22, from Iowa, who was killed in an explosion in the Anbar province of Iraq, had, after his first tour in Iraq in 2005, gone to Southeast Asia to help the victims of the Tsunami. I could go on. Each soldier has a story, a family. And it is the responsibility of the news media to tell these stories. Because as long as they are just numbers, or tallies or political gauges, the American public, most of whom are not experiencing the sacrifice that these military families endure, so that others, and far too frequently much wealthier others, don't have to, will not understand that War is not a foreign policy option, nor a decision to be made lightly.
The information for this editorial was taken from several sites on the web, including the Armed forces news service. The most comprehensive, and humbling site is Honor the Fallen, a service of the Military Times, that has photos, and stories for each of our brothers and sisters
who have died so far.

1 comment:

erin said...

Mining is a very dangerous profession. Not as much as crab or lobster fishing, apparently, but still enough that a disaster like this is not too surprising. But it's a safe, easy, emotional story.

Also, if I were related to any of the miners, this amount of coverage would make me sick. They had "updates" about three times a day, saying nothing but that they haven't found anything yet, but they're trying. It's not good reporting to report speculation and more often less.