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This Commander in Chief Doesn’t Know the Medal of Honor from His…

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Posted on November 10 2009 9:50 am
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.
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Barack Obama Doesn't know the difference between this and a Medal of Honor ceremony

This month, President Obama, despite his rather showy appearance to salute the coffins of American servicemen arriving at Dover– and finally showing up today at Fort Hood for the public memorial service– is proving  how ignorant (if not indifferent) he is to the military’s traditions of how Americans honor our fallen heroes.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want to thank my Cabinet members and senior administration officials who participated today. I hear that Dr. Joe Medicine Crow (ph) was around, and so I want to give a shout out to that Congressional Medal of Honor winner. It’s good to see you.

Largely overlooked in the shock many felt over Obama’s casual and callow statement about the massacre at Ft. Hood was the fact that he showed in his “shout out” to Joe Medicine Crow, that he did not know the difference between the Presidential Medal of Freedom— a largely political award at the discretion of the President– and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat; and as likely to be awarded posthumously as not. In fact, all of the Medal of Honor recipients in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have so far been awarded to soldiers who gave their lives to save those of their comrades.

A private who is awarded (not “wins” as the President crassly put it) the Medal of Honor would be literally saluted by a room full of generals.  Such is the reverence in which it is held, and the rarity of its awarding.

I mean to take nothing away from Joe Medicine Crow, a distinguished American who fought bravely in WWII, and earned a Bronze Star in combat.  And as you can see in this video, is an exceedingly charming and fascinating guy.

To add just another touch of Irony, Crow was honored by President Obama just 3 months ago in August of this year!  Here is an excerpt of the press release from the Office of the White House Press Secretary announcing the naming of Joe Medicine Crow as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief, is the author of seminal works in Native American history and culture. He is the last person alive to have received direct oral testimony from a participant in the Battle of the Little Bighorn: his grandfather was a scout for General George Armstrong Custer. A veteran of World War II, Medicine Crow accomplished during the war all of the four tasks required to become a ‘war chief,’ including stealing fifty Nazi SS horses from a German camp. Medicine Crow was the first member of his tribe to attend college, receiving his master’s degree in anthropology in 1939, and continues to lecture at universities and notable institutions like the United Nations. His contributions to the preservation of the culture and history of the First Americans are matched only by his importance as a role model to young Native Americans across the country.”

As impressive as Joe Medicine Crow is, and as deserving a recipient as he may have been for a Presidential Medal, compare the above citation with that of Michael Monsoor, a Navy Seal who was a recent Medal of Honor recipient.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Ironically, in an obvious agenda piece in the New York Times about Muslims serving in the U.S. military, they included Monsoor, whose Navy biography clearly states that he was a practicing Catholic (as are the majority of Americans of Lebanese descent, not to mention his mother’s Irish heritage), as an example of a heroic American Muslim!

The corrected article now makes little sense at the end, as it preserved a quote from Muslim soldier making the point that Monsoor would never achieve the fame of Hasan.  But that’s not because of Monsoor’s supposed heritage, it’s because he’s a hero.  The lame stream media hasn’t celebrated one of those in a long, long time.

There was a time when the media celebrated the Medal of Honor.  One of the more famous examples is Audie Murphy, whose press (not to mention his looks) was good enough to make this war hero into a movie star.  His Medal of Honor citation is also a good example (and contrast to the Presidential Medal) of what it takes for a living soldier to be awarded the CMOH:

2d Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by 6 tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to prepared positions in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, 1 of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machinegun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from 3 sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy’s indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy’s objective.

There are living American heroes who have performed like Audie Murphy among us today.  The recent trend to only award the Medal of Honor posthumously should be reversed.  While the Silver Star and Navy Cross are indeed badges of incredible courage; the idea that the nation’s highest honor can only be achieved through horrific damage to one’s self, and not for horrific damage done to the enemy at risk to one’s self, is a concession to political correctness that should never be allowed.

This Veterans Day, do yourself a favor, spend some time browsing the official Medal of Honor website. There is no better reminder of the heroism and sacrifice that is characteristic of the United States Armed Forces, and a great antidote to the pervasive attitude to the contrary in the modern media.

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