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How Bush has stayed away from soldiers' funerals

By Andrew Buncombe

03/01/06 "
The Independent" -- - More than 2,290 US troops have been killed in Iraq. President George Bush has attended none of the funerals - for which he is often criticised by the families of those who have died.

Nadia McCaffrey's son Patrick, 34, a member of the Californian National Guard, was killed during an ambush in Iraq in June 2004. She said she had not expected Mr Bush to attend her son's funeral in person but thought the government would send someone.

"It's not just me. Many, many people say the same thing," she said, speaking from her home near San Francisco. "He was my only child, but it was not only that. Patrick did not want anything from the military. He joined up out of patriotism. I would have thought that... somebody could have come. Nobody showed up."

The White House said that as Mr Bush could not attend every funeral, it would be wrong to pick just one. He has met the families of killed soldiers.

But critics say his behaviour gives the impression he is out of touch. The President has also been criticised for refusing to allow the media to photograph soldiers' coffins being flown back from Iraq.

The directive was introduced in early 2003. An official said: "We don't want the remains of our service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to be the subject of any kind of attention that is unwarranted or undignified."

2006 Independent News and Media Limited

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