Don't Overlook The True Heroes
For the past few years, an e-mail surfaces every so often taking the media to task for overlooking the funeral of Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who jumped on a hand grenade to save the lives of his team in Iraq. At the funeral, fellow SEALs slapped their trident insignias into the lid of his casket in recognition of their fallen comrade's bravery.
While a few details, such as Mr. Monsoor's rank, aren't completely accurate, on the whole the e-mail is correct in detailing his heroism. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions. And, truth be told, until the e-mail surfaced we weren't aware of his story. We checked the wire services and the Internet for information, however, as a news item it's a little late since Mr. Monsoor's funeral was in 2006. Still, the story of his bravery should be remembered.
In fact, the heroism of our military men and women should be acknowledged by the national media (no doubt local media provides coverage of hometown heroes) so the nation is aware of them and what they've done in service to America. A story on one of the news channels about an upcoming biography about Lt. Michael P. Murphy, also a Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient, started us thinking about the real heroes of the war on terror.
Mr. Murphy is distinguished by being the first SEAL to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War and the first recipient of the nation's highest military honor for valor in Afghanistan. Including Mr. Murphy and Mr. Monsoor, a total of six servicemen have received the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
All six Medals of Honor were awarded posthumously. Four recipients were younger than 30.
During wars of the previous century, when someone received the Medal of Honor they got national attention. They were front-page news. School children knew their names. There were parades and ceremonies in their honor. During World War II, living recipients were called upon to help with the war effort on the home front through bond drives, too.
Now a Medal of Honor recipient may be front-page news in a hometown newspaper, but is more likely to be far down the story agenda of wire services and news outlets. Even with 24/7 news channels, a 30-second spot on a news broadcast is the most likely television coverage.
Beyond the Medal of Honor, what about those in military service who have received other honors of distinction? How often do we hear about those awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star, other medals recognizing their service and sacrifice? Why isn't the public made more aware of these genuine heroes?
There is plenty of space and airtime for "celebrities" and gossip and falderal, yet little attention for those in harm's way. The public fawns over cinematic make-believe heroes, yet know little about genuine, real-life heroes.
It appears the national media has overlooked the heroes of the war on terror, or at least given them short shrift. There could be any number of reasons, such as an overall "out of sight, out of mind" attitude about the war, for this. Certainly it's not because heroes are out of style considering the coverage given people such as Capt. Sully who piloted the jetliner that crash landed in the Hudson River, or Wesley Autrey, the "Subway Hero" who saved a man who'd fallen on a subway train track in New York City.
Whatever the reason, we hope the national media, the wire services and the cable news channels will find some space and time to recognize those who give their all for their country, for freedom, and for their comrades.
For the record, the six Medal of Honor recipients in the war on terror are:
· Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, U.S. Army, Iraq
· Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, U.S. Marine Corps, Iraq
· Lt. Michael P. Murphy, U.S. Navy, Afghanistan
· Master-at-Arms Michael A. Monsoor, U.S. Navy, Iraq
· Pvt. 1st Class Ross A. McGinnis, U.S. Army, Iraq
· Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti, U.S. Army, Afghanistan.