There’s a propaganda edge to waging every war, and a sad hallmark of the Bush administration’s approach has been to deny America the candid sight of flag-draped coffins of sacrificed soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. A nation at war should confront the reality of war.

The muting of bad war news, which started at the Pentagon, is now an issue as well at Arlington National Cemetery. A public affairs director at the cemetery was recently fired after complaining that rules were tightened to isolate the media well beyond the point at which news organisations could hear, never mind photograph or videotape, burial ceremonies.

Gina Gray, the fired director, said last April that the rules for the media at Arlington were indeed tightened, and she promised the Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank that she would work to ease them. In the ensuing controversy, military officials promised to work out some middle ground. The cemetery denies coaxing the families - and the wishes of families that do not want news coverage should be taken into account. But surely eulogies for fallen soldiers and respectful depictions of final rituals should not be denied a place on the public record when grieving families wish coverage. Graveside is the last chance for a nation to remember those lost on its behalf.