The blowback to my column of two days ago, in which I argued that
we seem to have become reluctant to award the Medal of Honor to those who take
aggressive action against the enemy and kill bad guys, has been fierce. It has
been angry, vituperative, hate-filled, and laced with both profanity and
striking here is that readers who have reacted so viscerally to what I wrote
apparently didn’t read it, or only read the parts that ticked them off. I’m
guessing a fair amount of the reaction has come from those who didn’t actually
read the column, but read what others said about the column. It’s been
fascinating to watch.
clarification, here are excerpts from my first column in which I clearly state
that it is altogether right that we honor heroism and bravery when it is
expressed in self sacrifice:
The Medal of Honor will be awarded this afternoon to Army Staff
Sgt. Salvatore Giunta for his heroism in Afghanistan, and deservedly so. He took
a bullet in his protective vest as he pulled one soldier to safety, and then
rescued the sergeant who was walking point and had been taken captive by two
Taliban, whom Sgt. Giunta shot to free his comrade-in-arms.
This is just the eighth Medal of Honor awarded during our wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan, and Sgt. Giunta is the only one who lived long enough to
receive his medal in person...
Jesus, in words often cited in ceremonies such as the one which
will take place this afternoon, said, “Greater love has no one than this, that
someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). So it is entirely
right that we honor this kind of bravery and self-sacrifice, which is surely an
imitation of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
I’m not sure
there is a clearer or more forceful way for me to say it than I did right
there, that we surely ought to continue doing what we have done, which is to
grant our highest award for valor to those who risk their lives and even
forfeit them, as our Lord and Savior did, in defending the lives of their
accused me of denigrating awards for such valor, which is nonsense, as the
words above attest. I can hardly be rightly accused of denigrating an award
given to those who I believe exemplify the courage and self-sacrifice of the
Savior of the world. I have no doubt that I will continue to be accused of
this, but such accusations are entirely without merit.
saying that our soldiers have become feminized in the least, especially those who
have earned the Medal of Honor. It’s not our soldiers who have become
feminized, it is the awards process that has become feminized.
What I am
saying is that I am observing a trend in which we single out bravery in
self-defense and yet seem hesitant to single out bravery in launching
aggressive attacks that result in the deaths of enemy soldiers.
I never even
remotely suggested that we should stop honoring exceptional bravery in defense
of our own troops; quite the opposite, as a matter of fact, as the above
excerpts show. To borrow a phrase from Jesus, I say, “You should have practiced
the latter without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23).
striking that a certain amount of the criticism I have received actually
verifies my thesis. In response to my call to also honor those who have killed
bad guys in defense of our country, I have been called everything from savage
to brute to bloodthirsty to anti-American to un-American to traitor to
“expletives deleted” to the antichrist himself.
of this supports my contention that we have become too squeamish to honor such
valor. It’s almost as if it embarrasses us, as if we feel there is something
inappropriate about awarding our highest honor to those who kill the enemy in
battle. It is as if our culture has become so soft and so feminized that it
makes us enormously uncomfortable to think about praising such actions. It’s
like we know such warfare needs to be waged, but we’re hoping we don’t have to
find out very much about it.
is easier for us to honor valor when exhibited in self-defense, but we find
ourselves reluctant to honor killing the enemy when we are the aggressor in a
By my rough
count, about 25% of the Medals of Honor during the Vietnam War were granted to
soldiers who showed unusual bravery and courage in assertive military action
against the enemy. So far, according to Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal,
we have yet to do so even once in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Surely
there have been exceptional acts of bravery of those kinds in these wars, and
yet we have failed to grant our highest honor for gallantry to any of them.
Scriptures certainly know nothing of such squeamishness. Remember what drove
King Saul into a jealous rage was when the women of Israel commemorated David’s
exploits in song:
struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7).
And this was
not the last of David’s exploits in just wars. He went down to the town of
Keilah where he “fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock
and struck them with a great blow” (1 Samuel 23:5).
Then he went
after the Amalekites, and we are told that “David struck them down from
twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped,
except four hundred young men who mounted camels and fled” (1 Samuel 30:17).
did as the LORD commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to
Gezer” (2 Samuel 5:25).
read in 2 Samuel 8, “David defeated the Philistines and subdued them...he
defeated Moab...David also defeated Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of
Zobah...David struck down 22,000 men of the Syrians...and the LORD gave victory
to David everywhere he went...and David made a name for himself when he
returned from striking down 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt...and the
LORD gave victory to David wherever he went” (vv. 1,2,3,5,6,13,14).
remember, was “the man after (God’s) heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).
is not a religion of pacifism. Remember that John the Baptist did not tell the
soldiers who came to him to lay down their arms, even when they asked him
directly, “what shall we do?” (Luke 3:14).
certainly a terrible thing, and should only be waged for the highest and most
just of causes. But if the cause is just, then there is great honor in
achieving military success, success which should be celebrated and rewarded.
line here is that the God of the Bible clearly honors those who show valor and
gallantry in waging aggressive war in a just cause against the enemies of
freedom, even while inflicting massive casualties in the process. What I’m
saying is that it’s time we started imitating God’s example again.
otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily
reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)