I sat last week at my favorite drinking spot in Washington, DC, and watched, with tears in my eyes, a young soldier receive his nation's highest honor. For an old soldier like me, what was just as important as Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta's award was seeing the faces of other Medal of Honor winners sitting in the audience. You could see the pride in the faces of these aging heroes, as they watched this newest member of their most select fraternity have his day with the President. You could see their unstated words--"Son, your life will never be the same after this day"--and the looks of long-remembered and never-forgotten anguish as his citation was read. For some, you could have changed the name of a forgotten valley in Afghanistan to one in the Highlands of South Vietnam and move the calendar back 40 years, and it would have been their crowded hour.
The Medal of Honor is, other than its value in precious metals, not actually worth that much, at least from a physical view. It is a piece of starry ribbon, a piece of gold, some words. No, its real worth is that it is recognition of bravery and courage under fire, from the fellow citizens of a grateful nation. The history of the Medal is filled with men who did things that few others can imagine, from young black men seizing a Confederate flag from an enemy's hands in the Civil War, to leading soldiers up San Juan Hill (and to the White House), across No-Man's Land in the Great War, to World War II submarine captains, bomber pilots and a little known Texan who was rejected by every service except the Army and would become the most decorated soldier in U.S. history, to young Marines in the frozen retreat in the winter of 1950 in Korea, to medics saving their dying comrades in the jungles and paddies of Vietnam, through Somalia, to today. The history of the Medal is the history of our Republic, and its winners are the best of our nation--courageous, honorable, common men, who, almost as a man, would repeat what Audie Murphy said, "I never like being called the 'most decorated' soldier. There were so many guys who should have gotten medals and never did - guys who were killed."
Then you have men--and I use that word in this case to only describe the male of the human species--who have never served a day in uniform, much less a moment in combat. Who have never sacrificed for their fellow countrymen, who have never given a moment's thought to anything but their own self-centered and selfish pursuits, men to whom the idea of running forward when others run away is anathema.
One such man runs the Westboro Baptist Church. That man, in full disclosure, has made me ashamed to have been raised a Baptist, with his perversion of Biblical scripture, his non-Christ like treatment of his fellow man, and the continual abuse of grieving families with his warped media grandstanding.
The other, much like the aforementioned Westboro leader, works for the misnamed "American Family Association," and has announced that, based on his years of experience in fundamentalist Protestantism along with his decades of background in establishing Bible Centers, has given him the ability to pass judgment on an American fighting man. The announcement by Brian Fisher of the AFA, that the "feminization" of the Medal of Honor (by awarding it for saving lives) is another example of the Godless Left in breaking down the fabric of Christian America. http://action.afa.net/detail.aspx?id=2147486648
Hogwash. Shame on you Mr. Fisher. Shame on you for not actually reading the history of the Medal. Shame on you and your 'association' for hiding behind the bravery of young American boys, for denigrating their sacrifice for your warped political messaging. You dishonor the sacrifices of generations of young men, and your dishonesty is compounded by your ignorance of American military history. Your use of SSG Giunta's award to make some sort of accusation against your political and religious opponents is no better than what the Westboro Church does--you take the honorable service and sacrifice of others to showboat your hatred. http://action.afa.net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=2147500577
You sir and your kind are cowards. You hide behind better men and women, turning their courage and sacrifice into an opportunity to spread your lies. You are the "thief in the night" the Bible warns us of. You know nothing of service and nothing of sacrifice for your buddies. You don't know what it is to hold a 19 year old and feel his life bleed out on a street in Panama. You don't know what it is to wake up decades later, covered in a cold sweat, after a particularly vivid dream of combat.
You don't know these things because you've never had to take a single moment out of your life for your fellow man. Set up all the Bible study groups you want; continue to pass judgment on others from your self-centered world. But you can never forget you are a free man because of better men that won your freedom and whose courage keeps you free today.
I leave you with a quote from Kipling, who understood the soldier better than most:
"Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll."
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