<< The Body Politic

The Newest Medal of Honor

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

In today’s Wall Street Journal, William McGurn celebrates Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War:

At one o’clock today in the East Room of the White House, an Iowa-born soldier will receive the nation’s highest decoration for valor in combat. In our nine-year war in Afghanistan and Iraq, this is only the eighth Medal of Honor. Even more rare, the man who has earned it is the first from this war to live to see the president place it around his neck.

The soldier is Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta. On Oct. 25, 2007, then-Specialist Giunta and his team were on a mountain ridge in Afghanistan’s violent Korengal Valley when they were ambushed by the Taliban. He took a bullet stopped by a protective vest as he helped pull one soldier to safety.

Then he went forward to help the sergeant, Joshua Brennan, who had been walking point. Two Taliban were carrying Sgt. Brennan away. Spec. Giunta shot the Taliban and brought Sgt. Brennan back.

[…] Not that he’s ready to be called a hero. “I’m not at peace with that at all,” he said on “60 Minutes” Sunday night. “And coming and talking about it and people wanting to shake my hand because of it, it hurts me because it’s not what I want. And to be with so many people doing so much stuff and then to be singled out . . .”

Sgt. Giunta’s words, of course, remind us that he does not need this ceremony. The ceremony is for the rest of us. It reminds us of the sacrifices made so we can sleep easy at night—and of the kind of fighting man our society has produced.

What kind of man is that? When we think of military heroism, we may think of Rambos decorated for great damage inflicted on the enemy. In fact, the opposite is true. Every Medal of Honor from these wars has been for an effort to save life. Even more telling, each specifically recognizes bravery that cannot be commanded.

Read the whole thing here. The Army’s official account is here.

Image from the U.S. Army.

AEI