On Sunday the Chronicle ran a two reporter story on grieving Houston families who have lost a family member to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Yesterday, the Chronicle‘s reader rep, James Campbell, posted on readers’ reactions to the story — apparently the Chronicle is getting an earful:
A Page One story in Sunday’s paper is an axiomatic reminder that you can’t please all of the people all of the time no matter how careful the reporting. Chronicle reporters Allan Turner and Rosanna Ruiz wrote what I thought was an exceedingly evenhanded piece, Casualties of War, which looked at how six Houston-area families are grieving after losing a loved one to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The story was not about the 2,000th casualty in Iraq. It was not about blaming the Bush administration. It was not about Cindy Sheehan. It was not about being for or against the war. It was simply about grief and how these families are dealing with it.
My problem is that one of the moms in the Chronicle‘s story wasn’t properly identified:
“Please, do not let our heroes become faceless, expendable statistics in history books,” pleaded Amy Branham, the mother of one young Houston-area soldier killed in a stateside accident during the buildup. “For those of us who loved them with every fiber of our being, do not let their sacrifice be for nothing.”
Amy Branham is also an active member of Cindy Sheehan’s group, Gold Star Families for Peace — she accompanied Sheehan to Crawford this summer — and a guest contributor for the Houston Democrats blog. In fact, the above quote in the Chron story that is attributed to Branham is taken from a post Branham wrote for the HouDems:
Please, do not let our heros become faceless, expendable statics in the history books. We must remember them, honor them, respect them. For those of us who loved them with every fiber of our being, do not let their sacrifice be for nothing. The citizens of our country owe them that. The leaders of our country who sent them to die in a foreign country, far away from those they loved, owe them that.
And this isn’t the first time Branham has been featured in a Chronicle story. Twice in August she was in stories about Cindy Sheehan’s PR event in Crawford, once as a featured Houston-area mom who lost a son due to the Iraq war:
Amy Branham, whose son died in a car accident days before he was to ship out to Iraq, was at Sheehan’s side when the protesting mom was suddenly thrust into the limelight as the voice of anti-war sentiment in America.
Branham, of Houston, blames Bush for the February 2004 death of her son, Army Sgt. Jeremy Smith. She said her son never would have been at Fort Hood, near where he died, had he not been going to a war that she now believes is “illegal and unjust.”
“When my son Jeremy died last year, I was contacted by the media, and I was so angry about the war and about my son’s death, and I blamed George Bush, and I still do,” she said. “But I didn’t want to make his death into some kind of political thing at the time. I wanted to honor his memory and what he had done in his service for the country.
“But as time has gone on, and more and more information has come out about this war, and the lies and the way information was altered to bring us to where we are now, I just got more and more angry.”
Branham said her son believed in the president and believed in his mission, but “I feel that if he were to see what is going on today, he would be very angry like so many people are.”
It’s past time for the Chronicle to identify Branham properly and completely, so readers can decide for themselves if her opinions are worth considering.