Confessions are good for the Soul and so I must begin with my confession of the sin of envy. (I'll get to the sin of pride later.)TSO over at This Ain't Hell writes about his time spent with the Medal of Honor recipients at the "Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball." I admit my envy of his time spent with such great men. He interviewed six of the 48 living MoH recipients that were in attendance and posted five of their citations, including that of SSG Don J. Jenkins who entered service in Nashville and earned his MoH in Viet Nam while serving with the 9th Infantry Division.
The event occurs once every 4 years and is one of the few reasons why I could see suffering all the other ills: cold wind and hot air that blows out of Washington D.C. While some, particularly members of the left that I've run across, can not understand the level of honor due these men, Warriors do and so too do many Americans that take the time to read their stories.
They are true heroes who when presented with the opportunity to demonstrate the breadth of their character did so. In most of the situations they faced, no one would have faulted them with cowardice had they chosen flight rather than fight. Every American that raises their right hand and swears to defend the Nation, the Constitution, and the Flag that embodies her in the Uniform of the United States Military has taken a step towards the possibility of being in the situation these men did.
That makes Our Troops role models by fact that they are willing to pay the ultimate price in defense of something much greater than themselves. It makes them potential heroes for being willing to put themselves in a position that they may be forced to choose between risk to their own lives to save the lives of others.
Not every Troop is afforded the opportunity to demonstrate their resolve in difficult situations and not all situations have the same degree of difficulty. The US Military recognizes each situation, each act of valor on the degree of peril and the degree of selfless heroism of it and has instituted several Medals to honor those afforded the opportunity to demonstrate it. In the Hall of Heroes, we spotlight those we find in Our Current Conflicts who have done so.
The highest level of honor for valor is the Medal of Honor. It is of such distinction that few survive the event in which they earn it. In fact, there were none awarded for Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm, Bosnia or Kosovo. The sole recipients of the Medal of Honor from the mid 70's through the beginning of this Century sacrificed their own lives in a suicidal attempt to save the life of others in Somalia: Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon.
They and those that came after them, SFC Paul Smith, CPL Jason Dunham, PFC Ross McGinnis, LT Michael Murphy, PO2 Michael Monsoor, in Afghanistan and Iraq sacriced their own lives in the events for which they were honored. There have been few opportunities for the level of valor required and none have survived those few. Our youngest living Medal of Honor recipient earned it in Viet Nam. They are a dying breed, dying of old age. And be sure to also visit the page of SFC Paul Smith's Command Sergeant Major, who continues to be proud of his time shared with such a hero for parts of the story untold elsewhere.
So, when a politician of the level of the incoming CinC decides to blow off the gathering of those that are still with us, for the first time since Dwight Eisenhower was first graced with their presence, it is significant. That is the sin of pride, for while the event welcomes the new CinC to office, it honors those that have proven themselves in great deeds carried out by order of previous CinC's. The end of a tradition unbroken over the previous 5 decades is astounding, as it was surely briefed to him and if not, then signifies poor choice in advisors.
This does not bode well for the Respect of our Men and Women in Uniform from their Commander in Chief over the next 4 years, just as it did not bode well when the same man as candidate blew off the General who brought Victory in Iraq against the prophecies and policies of the same then Senator, and as it did not bode well when the same man as a candidate for his current office blew off the Wounded Warriors who had sacrificed and risked all in Service to the Nation which the same man now leads.
While I am guilty of the sin of envy that I missed the honor of the company of these proven men, our new Politician in Chief is guilty of the sin of pride for having skipped an invitation to it.
But I do empathize with TSO in his realization that it is easier to talk with men of great honor and valor, brothers who achieved much more than did either of us, than it is to talk to a redhead and I too hate talking on the phone. Let's face it, we just have more in common both in experiences and thought processes with Warriors than women.
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