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Un Salvatore

November 16, 2010

Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta has been given the Medal of Honor today. In October 2007 in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, he’s shown extraordinary courage when rescuing two of his squad members during an encounter with Taliban fighters.

Here’s a quote from him (from William McGurn’s column):

“I’m not at peace with that [being called a hero] 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 . . .”

Monsieur McGurn points out that,

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.

I wouldn’t call saving lives the opposite of inflicting great damage on the enemy. But apart from that semantic quibble, the French Cowboy agrees.

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