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American heroes

Seven Score and Ten Years Ago

In the Weekly Standard, Program director Gary Schmitt writes on the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address:

November 19 marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address—rightly judged to be the greatest speech in America’s history. And while there have been innumerable books and articles written about the content, language, and rhetorical sophistication of Lincoln’s remarks, far less has been written about why he chose the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, some four and a half months after the battle itself, to deliver the speech he did.

Lincoln had been invited by the organizing committee for the battlefield’s consecration to give, as “Chief Executive of the nation,” “a few appropriate remarks.” But these were to follow the main attraction of the day, a speech by famed orator Edward Everett, former president of Harvard, senator, and governor of Massachusetts. With Everett expected to speak to the assembled crowd for two hours at least, Lincoln could well have chosen to follow Everett with just a few perfunctory lines, assuming what really mattered to the organizers was the president’s attendance, not what he might have to say.

But Lincoln chose a different path. Why?

Read the whole thing to find out.

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Awarding the Medal of Honor to Iraq War Servicemembers

The President of the United States has awarded 3,471 Medals of Honor since the award’s inception in 1861, recognizing soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines for risking their life above the call of duty. James Roberts, writing in the Wall Street Journal, laments the fact that not a single living service member has received the Medal of Honor from service in the Iraq War, and provides a remarkable example of valor deserving of recognition.

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Nominate a veteran for the 2013 HOOAH Award

Each year, the Major George A. Smith Memorial Fund awards the HOOAH Award to a veteran who “defines citizenship through service to our country, both in uniform and beyond.” Past honorees include Eric Greitens, Derek Blumke, Eric Hilleman, and Chris Marvin; read their inspiring stories here. Nominations for the 2013 HOOAH Award are now being accepted.

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Clinton Romesha awarded Congressional Medal of Honor

Yesterday, President Barack Obama awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to Clinton Romesha, a 31-year-old retired staff sergeant in the US Army. In October 2009, Romesha helped to defend Combat Outpost Keating in northeast Afghanistan against an attack by more than 300 Taliban fighters. Before the somber ceremony began in the East Room of the White House, Romesha’s young son, Colin, provided pre-program entertainment for those in attendance.

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When a Cardinal ruled the roost

In this week’s edition of the Weekly Standard, AEI Program on American Citizenship director Gary Schmitt has an article on Stan Musial, the Baseball Hall of Famer who died on January 19. What made Musial stand out for Schmitt was not simply his outstanding career with the St. Louis Cardinals (with whom he played all of his 22 years), or his on-the-field accomplishments (three-time National League MVP, seven-time batting champ, and a “wins above replacement” number that places him just behind Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron), but rather the bigger story of Musial himself. His was, as Schmitt notes, a quintessentially American story.

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Education center at Vietnam Wall to honor recent veterans

Writing for the Courier-Journal, Staff Sgt. Salvatore Guinta, the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, worries that even with the public outpouring of support for service members, the care packages sent, and the warm homecomings offered, “today’s military members serve a nation more disconnected from its armed forces that at any time in our country’s history.”

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Honoring our veterans

This Sunday, November 11, is Veterans Day. We as a nation commemorate the holiday every year on November 11, but how many of us know why we do? What makes Veterans Day different from Memorial Day? What does the holiday mean, and how do we properly observe it? What does it mean to honor the Veterans in our midst?

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What the troops leave unsaid: a growing civil-military divide

Over at the “At War” blog of The New York Times, Jonathan Raab, a sergeant in the New York National Guard currently serving in Kuwait, reminds us of the hardships many veterans face when they return home from war–and the responsibility we have to engage them in thoughtful conversation about their concerns.

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Blind Army captain serves Gonzaga’s ROTC


In April of 2005, while serving as an infantry officer, Army Captain Scott Smiley was injured when a car bomb exploded while he was patrolling the city of Mosul, Iraq. The blast left him temporarily paralyzed on his right side and permanently blind.

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One wounded warrior’s story

Over on his photography blog, Tim Dodd has a moving series of posts about his friend Taylor Morris, who was injured in Afghanistan in May of this year. Working as part of an explosive ordinance disposal team, Morris stepped on an IED, losing both of his legs, his left arm, and his right hand.

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Bridging the civil-military divide on campus

Writing yesterday for the New York Times “At War” blog, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, a retired Marine and current student at Georgetown University, describes the challenges that many veterans face when leaving war for college, and encouraged them to “bridge the gap” with the other students they meet on campus.

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Remembering 9/11

This morning, President Barack Obama and his wife laid a wreath at the Pentagon as part of an official observance remembering the events of September 11, 2011. The president also spoke to the families and friends of the victims, remarking that “eleven times we have marked another September 11th come and gone. Eleven times, we have paused in remembrance, in reflection, in unity and in purpose. This is never an easy day.  But it is especially difficult for all of you–the families of nearly 3,000 innocents who lost their lives–your mothers and fathers, your husbands and wives, your sons and your daughters. They were taken from us suddenly and far too soon.”

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Mid-week roundup

What’s happening in the citizenship world? Here’s our mid-week roundup:

  • World War II veteran Raymond Smith, age 92, finally received his high school diploma
  •  Last week, the United States military reached 2,000 dead in the Afghanistan conflict.
  •  In July, Gary Gutting, a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, posed the question: Is patriotism moral?
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    Remembering Neil Armstrong

    Over the weekend, Neil Armstrong, the first human to step foot on the Moon, died at age 82. In reading remembrances of the astronaut, one theme that stands out through nearly all of them is how admired Armstrong was for his honest and good citizenship. Here are some excerpts from different accounts

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    Helping veterans help themselves

    In an article this week in The Washington Times, Sgt. Dakota Meyer, a recent Medal of Honor recipient, and Kevin Schmiegel, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative, write about the high unemployment rate facing the nation’s returning veterans and discuss ways that they are helping veterans better prepare for the tough job market.

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    “We like to leave that situation better than we we got there…”

    Writing earlier this week in the U-T San Diego newspaper, Lisa Deaderick profiles the journey of an inspiring Marine at the University of San Diego. Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Adibe enlisted in the Marine Corps in June of 2001 out of a desire to serve his country, and he saw the Marines as a group that can make a difference: “When we go into a situation, we like to leave that situation better than we we got there.” After serving as a logistician in the Marines–where he has been deployed to both Indonesia and Afghanistan—in 2009, as part of the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, Adibe started attending the University of San Diego, where he participates in ROTC.

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    Of war and healing waters

    In the Washington Examiner, James Carafano, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, recently wrote about the “sea of goodwill”–as the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen put it–of the thousands of organizations that seek to help war veterans transition into civilian life upon their return home.

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    Drafting our kids?

    In yesterday’s New York Times, Thomas Ricks, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, echoed a call recently made by General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of international forces in Afghanistan, to bring back the draft.

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    Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional

    In addition to releasing its opinion on the Affordable Health Care Act yesterday, the Supreme Court also issued its decision in United States v. Alvarez, deciding that the Stolen Valor Act violated the First Amendment of the Constitution.

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    Veterans on Wall Street

    The New York Times recently reported on a small brokerage firm, Drexel Hamilton, that reaches out to and trains military veterans for jobs in the financial sector. As we’ve noted before, the unemployment rate for veterans is higher than the national average–and for veterans ages 24 and under, the unemployment rate is about 12% higher than that of their peers (29.1% compared to 17.6%). Drexel Hamilton is trying to change this.

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