Leave the Medal of Honor Alone

This is a discussion on Leave the Medal of Honor Alone within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; This has been on some site but this is the first I've seen in a major paper. Sometimes even the Washington Post prints something that's ...

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Thread: Leave the Medal of Honor Alone

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Leave the Medal of Honor Alone

    This has been on some site but this is the first I've seen in a major paper.

    Sometimes even the Washington Post prints something that's got it right, IMHO.

    washingtonpost.com

    Leave the Medal of Honor Alone

    By Ed Hooper
    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    On Sept. 17 President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to the parents of Army Staff Sgt. Jared C. Monti for "conspicuous gallantry." Monti, 30, was serving with the 10th Mountain Division when he was killed June 21, 2006, in a battle at Gowardesh, Afghanistan.

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    Leave the Medal of Honor Alone
    This was the sixth occasion since Sept. 11, 2001, that the nation's highest military award has been bestowed. Unfortunately, some are pushing for this decoration to be awarded more generously because they believe the number of recipients is too low.

    More than a dozen groups and lawmakers are lobbying the Defense Department to award this honor more frequently -- in effect, to lower its standards -- and to upgrade to the Medal of Honor other decorations that soldiers have received. In debate over the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010, the Pentagon was criticized for setting decoration standards too high. The "low numbers" led Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to insert a conference report in the authorization act "to review the current trends in awarding the Medal of Honor to identify whether there is an inadvertent subjective bias amongst commanders that has contributed to the low numbers of awards of the Medal of Honor." It directs Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to report back to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees next March.

    The Defense Department's definition of "hero" has stood the test of time. And the standards for this nation's highest military award are appropriately strict.

    The Medal of Honor is the least-understood U.S. military decoration. In 1916, a committee under the leadership of a medal recipient, Gen. Nelson Miles, reviewed each instance of award, set up investigative standards and rules, and strengthened the requirements (including specifying that recipients must be actively enrolled in U.S. armed forces at the time of their act of bravery). The "Purge of 1917" stripped 911 Medals of Honor from those not deemed worthy of having received them; the most well known of these are 864 awarded during the Civil War to the soldiers of the 27th Maine, who received the medal simply for reenlisting. Sadly, amid political pressure, some of the medals taken away were later returned.

    The Medal of Honor is presented ceremoniously by the president of the United States in the name of Congress, but the Defense Department chooses the candidates. The department has historically based its decisions on soldiers' actions and merit. Most of those calling for the medal to be bestowed more frequently couldn't name any of the 95 recipients who are still living or the remarkable actions that led to their awards.

    The Medal of Honor is a combat decoration not limited to a past battle or present circumstances; it is also about how succeeding generations will view the individuals on whom it was bestowed and why. Most Medals of Honor have been posthumously awarded, and the citations justifying its presentation are Homeric stories of bravery that centuries from now are likely to stand unrivaled beside the stories of great warriors and citizen-soldiers throughout history.

    The uniformed men and women of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy will tell you that the Medal of Honor is a warrior's award and that it is their decoration to present only to those whom they regard as fit to wear it. Politicians, pundits and civilian organizations -- however well-meaning -- should have little say in who receives it.

    Nor is our Defense Department unique in bestowing its highest combat decoration sparingly. More than 50,000 British troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 360 have been killed in combat. The British Secretary of State for Defence, however, has awarded only two of that nation's highest decoration, the Victoria Cross, for actions under fire. The United States has fielded three times as many troops and awarded three times the number of our highest decoration since Sept. 11, 2001.

    Yet this honor is not about quotas or statistics; nor does the number of presentations reflect on the modern soldier's valiant service on the battlefield. The Bronze Star, the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross are prestigious decorations of valor, not to be taken lightly or dismissed.

    The strict standards for the Medal of Honor are meant to keep it credible. It is wrong to pressure the Defense Department to lower its standards of individual courage, nobility and self-sacrifice on a battlefield. The department should make its own decisions on this award so Americans will know that when it lauds someone as a "hero," we should all take notice.

    Ed Hooper is an author and journalist from Knoxville, Tenn., who has reported on military affairs and assembled educational programs on the Medal of Honor. A version of this column was distributed by History News Service.
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    Excellent. Thank you.

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    EW3
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    Well, I'll be the first to disagree here. The criteria for the MoH has become so stringent anymore that a living MoH awardee is all but impossible. This wasn't the case in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
    "Naked and Starving as They are We Cannot Enough Admire the Incomparable Patience and Fidelity of the Soldiery" George Washington, Valley Forge, 1777.

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    I'm still trying to figure out what to say without using bad words...I'll have to come back to this...it confirms my opinion about people in DC who have a hard time understanding anything - and some were elected [by those who showed up to vote and presumably could read and/or perhaps think], and then those dufus's appointed like-minded people...and here we are. Anyone got a giant eraser so that we can start all over again?? On second thought...
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    Very good article! Thanks for posting. I tend to agree with the sentiments of the author.
    -Bark'n
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    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

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    I agree with the author: leave it alone. I remember reading about Roy Benavidez in a Readers Digest when I was in grade school . I was astounded. His story is like that of a viking. Not long ago I read an email forward originally written by the doctor who attended to him at his death a few years ago. When I was in college there was a signed photo of him in the restaurant I worked in from when he'd visited once. I wish I'd been there to meet him.

    I felt like the Clinton administration politicized the award with a lot of the retroactive medals they gave to people who previously had not been awarded the medal.

    Congress needs to butt out and recognize that the name on the medal is as close as most of them should get to having anything to do with our highest decoration.

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    JD
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    Quote Originally Posted by EW3 View Post
    Well, I'll be the first to disagree here. The criteria for the MoH has become so stringent anymore that a living MoH awardee is all but impossible. This wasn't the case in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
    Brad Kasal. Enough said.

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    EW3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JD View Post
    Brad Kasal. Enough said.
    But he didn't receive it, he got the Navy Cross, which is nothing to sneeze at.

    I have a theory as to why there there appears the be this stinginess in the awarding of the MoH in the last 15 years or so.

    1. No more declared wars, only "Operations" and "Conflicts"
    2. Political issues such as a long chain of command that a medal recommendations now goes through, which ends up at the desk of someone who isn't even in the same theater of war.
    3. Political correctness; why should one person receive the Medal of Honor when "everyone is supposed to be the best"; a twisted version of the "everyone's a winner" mentality.
    "Naked and Starving as They are We Cannot Enough Admire the Incomparable Patience and Fidelity of the Soldiery" George Washington, Valley Forge, 1777.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EW3 View Post
    But he didn't receive it, he got the Navy Cross, which is nothing to sneeze at.

    I have a theory as to why there there appears the be this stinginess in the awarding of the MoH in the last 15 years or so.

    1. No more declared wars, only "Operations" and "Conflicts"
    2. Political issues such as a long chain of command that a medal recommendations now goes through, which ends up at the desk of someone who isn't even in the same theater of war.
    3. Political correctness; why should one person receive the Medal of Honor when "everyone is supposed to be the best"; a twisted version of the "everyone's a winner" mentality.
    Agreed, but still...while the guy didn't jump on a grenade, he did shield his injured Marine and took the frag, that alone should have been worth it, not to mention the rest of the damage he took protecting his Marines. It's not that common for a 1st Sgt to go to that level....

    I'm going to stop now, I'm in a hi-jacking mood today it seems.

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    It is my understanding that Sgt. Major Brad Kasal is still being considered for the MoH award.

    Sgt. Major Brad Kasal - An American Hero

    On November 13, 2004, (then) 1st Sgt. Brad Kasal led his 3/1 Marines into a Fallujah firefight. Before it was over, he would receive 47 wounds and lose sixty percent of his blood supply. 40 of those wounds were from shrapnel - he shielded a wounded Marine, LCpl Nicoll from a grenade with his own body - and the other 7 were from enemy bullets. And he walked out of the fight, pistol in hand.



    -Bark'n
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    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

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    Leave the criteria for the MOH alone! Here's an interesting link for "Living Recipients": The Living Medal of Honor Recipients
    Sometimes in life you have to stand your ground. It's a hard lesson to learn and even most adults don't get it, but in the end only I can be responsible for my life. If faced with any type of adversity, only I can overcome it. Waiting for someone else to take responsibility is a long fruitless wait.

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    I generally agree with no changes to the "standard" established, but I would also hope there are more "living" Medal of Honor awardees. It seems to becoming one where they have to die before they can receive one.

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    They should leave it alone. These people wanting to change it are probably the same ones a while back that were wanting a purple heart equivalent for personnel not in actual combat. We had to see this coming.

    For a long time I have been upset with how we have cheapened the term of hero. Many don't like my views but I have never believed that a job makes a person a hero. I'm sorry but all soldiers are not heroes. Neither are all teachers, police, firemen, etc. Very few people are actually heroes in real life. It is important that we don't make the term hero so common that it loses its value.

    Michael

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    Quote Originally Posted by First Sgt View Post
    Leave the criteria for the MOH alone! Here's an interesting link for "Living Recipients": The Living Medal of Honor Recipients
    Why do they always forget the USCG?

    (Leave the standards alone.)
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    I agree, leave it alone.
    It seems to me standards for everything just keep getting lower and lower. And morals follow. Look where some people's personal values have fallen to.
    Disclaimer: The posts made by this member are only the members opinion, not a reflection on anyone else, nor the group, and should not be cause for anyone to get their undergarments wedged in an uncomfortable position.

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