Controversy Over "The Fallen"

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

Some stations in eight cities refused to air the special edition of "Nightline", called "The Fallen."

The stations are owned by Sinclair Media Group, which objected to the format: anchor Ted Koppel reading the names and showing the pictures of more than 700 American service members killed while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Koppel said the show was conceived as a way to honor the dead and to provoke thought.

"I am not sure what the Sinclair group finds so poisonous about the reading of names of our fallen and why that is perceived to be something that would in any way undermine the men and women who are still fighting there or what the administration is trying to do," said Koppel.

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the end of major combat operations, USA Today newspaper displayed the pictures of U.S. troops killed in Iraq in April on its front page. The Washington Post did the same in a three-page spread inside the paper.

Some critics say there are political or commercial aspects behind the idea.

Newscenter 11 asked various Meridian citizens, such as Vern McDaniel, how they view it.

"I see it as a tribute. In the political realm, I don't think they quite understand, but we have a tendency to forget our people and we should honor our veterans when they come home, especially when they come home in a body bag," said McDaniel.

Joe Lemoine, Lauderdale County's veterans service officer, said, "I think it's an excellent idea. We want the whole world to know about it. They're heroes and I don't see where anyone could interfere with that or why anyone would be dissatisfied with the idea."

Willie Schanrock was the motivating force behind the idea of a monument to Christopher Mabry, the Clarkdale youth who recently died in Iraq.

"This war was not for oil. It was for liberating the people of Iraq, get them away from that tyrant Saddam Hussein," said Schanrock.

Ken Storms, a Vietnam veteran, has different viewpoint. He said he would not want his name read on such a program.

"For me, having my name read as a deceased veteran who gave his life in the quest for his country's freedom, it would be honorable to do in front of my family and my community and that's where I think the honor needs to be."


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