Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta will become the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War. He will be one of four, who have fought in Afghanistan, to receive the nation's highest honor. While President Obama will decorate a living soldier with the medal, Congress is considering a resolution to declare November U.S. Military History Month in America. The bill was introduced by U.S. Representative John Duncan (R-TN) and is now garnering the necessary co-sponsors to make it to the House floor for a vote.
"We use the word hero far too much these days, but if you look into the military history of our Nation you will find amazing stories of some true heroes -- men and women whose courage, sacrifice, and accomplishments made the United States the greatest nation in the World,"Duncan stated.
The truth is these sailors and soldiers are returning to a nation that no longer embraces their service as a serious educational subject. From the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan, the nation's military legacy includes decisive victories and painful defeats on the battlefield that shaped and formed the country it is today. Foreign nations' historians were often awed and wrote extensively about the unique strategies, tactics and the fighting abilities of the U.S. soldier.
2011 will be a banner year for American commemorations of the nation's military past. It will be the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the 150th anniversary of start of the U.S. Civil War. Living historians are planning large battle reenactments for 2011. Cities and states from Maine to Florida have Civil War Sesquicentennial committees and are heavily promoting heritage tourism destinations during the observance.
In the commercial marketplace of book sales, cable television and movie rentals, U.S. military history is booming. Films on the subject have won Oscars and writers have taken Pulitzer Prizes home for their works on American military topics. A recent article in Publishers Weekly revealed book sellers are poised to release a bevy of new titles next year on the subject.
The news scholastically is dismal. Military history has all but vanished from America's educational mainstream. What was once regarded as a core subject in a classical education has become irrelevant and this subject demands qualified academic oversight.
Smaller colleges and universities are trying to fill the void, but the academic footprint continues to shrink in America. Most Ivy League colleges don't have a single faculty member who specializes in military history.
This absence trickled down to public school systems generations ago and has practically eradicated it. Gone from U.S. textbooks are the commanders and the battles. The stories of remarkable citizen soldiers who walked away from the safety of their fields, stores and factories and stepped into history's pages are forgotten. The sociological impacts of armed conflicts or political movements relating to U.S. wars now dominate classroom instruction.
American military history remains one subject where students can peer past media images to see an undivided nation at work. In those academic texts, are found invaluable life lessons of men and women of all races and creeds who made remarkable individual achievements. Many accomplishments some never lived to see and are stories representing the best of humanity.
This bill would be an achievement for the 111th Congress. Legislating a U.S. Military History month in the same one that the nation honors its veterans is appropriate. Creating a time to remember the nation's military legacy in public places and American schools is needed and worth supporting.