I have purchased Stars and Stripes for more than 20 years and I can guarantee you that it will never happen again. This is nothing short of pure exploitation.

I am sure you guys will claim journalistic integrity with the publication of Barbara Arizmendez crying in the photo on the front page of your July 22 edition (“A war widow’s grief”). You may have even cruelly decided that the “public” deserves the truth about what happened “over there.”

This is not news. Do you really feel that we, the military men, women, dependents and civilians who have served in and around conflict for the last 10 years, have not seen this pain? Trust me, we know it all too well. I am saddened and disgusted that you would decide to parade her loss for all to see.

I hope and pray that you have not added to her already unbearable loss. What about those who suffered beside this hero who gave his life on the field of battle? Are they now dealing with the extra burden of bearing her pain? I deeply resent this photo.

To Ms. Arizmendez: My family and I are truly saddened by your loss. I also thank you and your husband for providing the freedom that my family and I enjoy every day.

Master Sgt. Chambliss D. McKendree

Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany

Hurtful to show widow’s grief

In reference to the front cover and Page 5 of the July 22 edition: This issue was painful and showed extreme lack of compassion for the widow shown. Not only was it immoral and disrespectful to showcase her in her grief but, to those of us who live with, work with and know the families, it was hurtful. We found it to be profoundly poor judgment to “spotlight” her and not just show the fallen soldiers’ photos or helmets, which would have been in better taste than putting her on display.

You, the staff of Stars and Stripes, must put yourselves in others’ shoes before you frontline someone. Did anyone even ask her if she would mind? I doubt it.

You turned what was a private moment into a “spotlight.” Shame on you for running that photo.

Rena Mesch

Hohenfels, Germany

Photo was powerful testimony

As a member of the Hohenfels community currently serving the soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment as the community physical therapist, and as a retired military member whose spouse has also been deployed, I have to disagree with “Grief photo is shameful” (letter, July 23).

The photo that appeared in Stars and Stripes for the 1-4 Infantry Regiment memorial ceremony was truly a moving and powerful testimony to Staff Sgt. Marc A. Arizmendez’s life and family. Barbara Arizmendez was being comforted during one of the ceremony’s most touching moments — a time where tribute was being paid by the members of her husband’s unit. The photo captures the agony of that moment, but also recognizes that her husband was a well-respected and well-loved soldier. The photo reveals what we all need at those crushing moments of our lives: comfort from one another.

Such photos are a powerful reminder that we are a country at war and that some are continuing to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Arizmendez and his fellow 1-4 Infantry Regiment soldiers are heroes. Lest this war become another forgotten war, the story of these soldiers and their contribution to freedom’s cause needs to be told.

The free press is one of the things that makes our country great. If the press doesn’t tell the story of our country’s soldiers (and of the sacrifices that their spouses and families make), who will?

Maj. Sandra M. Elliott (retired)

Hohenfels, Germany

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