Thursday, February 2, 2017
On Medals of Honor and The Awarding Thereof
I have no idea what prompted this piece, but it was building for a while. Maybe it was someone on television; maybe something completely disconnected from the topic. After all, we have lots of dusty old synapses in our brains that fire off randomly as we get a bit older.
I was thinking about Congressional Medal of Honor winners.
Now, you don't go into the military hoping to win one; it's not like joining a pro sport dreaming of a Super Bowl or of playing in and winning a World Series, or Stanley Cup, or whatever you win in as champions of the NBA. There is still an NBA, right? Anyone here watch?
You go into the military because you have a set of core beliefs that include the proper defense of our country, and because you feel compelled to be part of that defense. You don't go in expecting to have to be in a situation where you put your life in high risk to save your brother and sister military in some manner. You are trained on how to do that and what to do, and how to respond if it happens, but it isn't exactly your dream. It's about the mission.
You just do it.
So how must it have felt for those servicemen who have been awarded a Medal of Honor for the last eight years? You become one of a select few put in a situation where your courage and placement of country above life is tested and you pass the test with an A+. And eventually, you are brought to the White House and a precious ribbon is placed around your neck.
It looks like the picture of it you see often; each service has its own similar, but slightly varied, design. You come to the White House, and the President of the United States is the one putting the ribbon and star medal on you.
But no, the president in office when you are awarded is Barack Obama, an anti-military ideologue who truly couldn't care less for your bravery and courage, who never served and never liked you when you served. In fact, he picketed your brothers in arms, metaphorically or actually, years back. He doesn't really even like you, because he doesn't believe in the role of the military.
That president released terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to go back into the battlefield and fight you, and that's the same president now choking back anger and putting on a big phony smile as he makes a speech about your heroism, but believes none of it. And that is your memory as you go back to your unit.
You tell the story of your trip to the White House, but it is colored by the notion that, rather than someone who believed in you and your unit, and the military and the USA's position in the world, and deeply admired the special qualities that made you do what you did, you got Barack Obama. All the photographs, all the memories, will have to be of the guy who refused to allow recruiting offices to be armed and defend themselves.
They'll be memories that the highest military honor was draped around your neck by the president who pulled troops out of Iraq without ensuring the stability of that nation's military and therefore leading to the power of ISIS. You will have to discard the contempt that he has for you and your mission.
I don't know how many Medal of Honor winners had to endure being honored by Obama, however reluctantly, in the last eight years. But that won't have to happen anymore. I have every confidence, and so do you, that President Trump will be squarely behind our military, and that if the time comes that further Medals of Honor are awarded, that they will be awarded with a firm hand and a steely eye, and that both of them will be sincere.
Because our president truly believes in your mission.
Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
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