Monday, November 13, 2006

The Only Good Hero is a Dead Hero 

Am I the only one to notice a distinct pattern here? (all emphasis added)
Sgt. Smith's actions saved 100 lives that day, those of his men and the lightly armed medics, journalists and wounded personnel at the forward aid station and command center. His firepower was crucial to their survival.

Two years later, on April 4, 2005, President Bush, awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army Sgt. First Class Paul Ray Smith and presented it to the Smith family in a ceremony at the White House to an audience of generals, diplomats, members of Sgt. Smith's platoon and former Medal of Honor recipients.

- Ventura County Star, 11/12/2006

Yesterday, on the eve of Veterans Day, President Bush announced that Cpl. Jason Dunham would become the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War for sacrificing his life in Iraq for his fellow Marines. Dunham, assigned to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines Regiment, died more than two years ago after covering a grenade with his helmet.
- Honolulu Star Bulletin, 11/11/2006

Two other Marines have reportedly been nominated for the Medal of Honor for heroism in Iraq. Both would be posthumous awards.

Sgt. Rafael Peralta, 25, with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, died Nov. 15, 2004, during the second battle of Fallujah. His unit had been fighting insurgents in a house when he was mortally wounded. He then cradled a grenade to save other Marines in the room.

The other name mentioned is Lance Cpl. Christopher Adlesperger, 20, with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, who died Dec. 9, 2004. One month earlier, Adlesperger, after taking fire from a house during the Fallujah battle, climbed to the top of the house, fired grenades through the roof, shot and killed insurgents as they ran out of the house, and led the charge back into the house to make sure it was secure, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times.

- Army Times, 11/10/2006

I also recall a Navy Times article that mentioned a possible Medal of Honor nomination for Navy SEAL LT Michael Patrick Murphy for service in Afghanistan. There has not been a Medal of Honor awarded to a living recipient during the action cited since Vietnam. I have no intention of taking due honor and respect away from these brave and glorious men, but I cannot be convinced that there are no equally deserving acts of heroism performed by men (or women) who engaged the enemy, did substantial damage and still lived to tell the tale.

I think we are in danger of allowing this great honor to be recast solely as a victim's medal, which would be a tragedy. We have come to a point where in polite, correct, society violence itself is villianized instead of the motivation and purpose. We have come to believe, as a society, that "violence never solves anything," and therefore to openly and strongly praise anyone based upon their expert application of violence seems an anathema. It's okay if the recipient is dead, because then their actions seem more selfless, more necessary. Besides, they're not there to serve as living reminders that violence, in fact, is sometimes the only way to solve certain things. But it is exactly this fact of which that we, as a society, need to be reminded from time to time.

BTW, CBS carried the news of Cpl. Dunham's honor buried in an "other developments" paragraph under an article with the headline Suicide Bomber Kills 35 In Baghdad. Big surprise, eh?

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