To all of our brave men and women in uniform, past and present, and to all of their family members, I say thank you for your service.
It is 1 a.m. and nearly dark on the flight line but for the spray of pinkish light that shines at the open door of a cargo plane.
The flag-covered box inside looks like every other one that has come through here. But the family standing in the plane’s shadows soon recognizes it as their box. It carries the remains of 1st Lt. Roslyn ‘Roz’ Schulte, the spirited young Air Force officer who showed such promise, killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan Wednesday. As the box is taken to a waiting truck, the family quietly mourns, grateful at least to be here.
Until recently, the Schultes could never have come. Nor could they have invited the media to share their daughter’s sacrifice with a grateful nation. Six weeks ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates overturned a Gulf War-era policy that forbade families and the media from witnessing the return of America’s war dead. The elder President Bush instituted the ban in the belief that pictures of casualties would turn public opinion against the war effort.