Bryan Fischer: Honor to whom honor is owed
Monday, November 22, 2010 10:45 AM

Bryan FischerThe Medal of Honor is awarded for two kinds of heroism and selfless bravery, both equally meritorious and entirely worthy of  our nation’s highest award. There is the soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades. And there is the “take the hill” soldier who exposes himself courageously to lethal risk to accomplish a military objective and inflicts casualties on the enemy in the process.

Both kinds of heroism are often honored posthumously, as many Medal of Honor winners offered the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. Both types of gallantry and valor merit our undeserving praise, because they exemplify the spirit of Christ, who said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

I’ve had occasion over the last week to peruse the citations for the Medal of Honor that have been awarded from World War II and forward. My efforts have not been exhaustive or scientific, due to the constraints of time, but it has confirmed my suspicion that we are rapidly depriving our “take the hill” soldiers of the ultimate award for valor.

We are in essence dishonoring their gallantry and heroism by withholding from them the ultimate award for conspicuous bravery in battle. The question must be asked, why? I’ve offered my theory; others are welcome to offer theirs. But what is becoming clear beyond dispute is that we appear reluctant to offer our highest award to our “take the hill” soldiers.

The Bible says “honor to whom honor is owed,” and it looks to me as though we have some catching up to do. There are “take the hill” soldiers who have not been honored but who should have been.

By the way, the U.S. ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY has done a great service by preserving the citations for each MOH winner, and I found their archives to be of enormous help.

During World War II, 464 Medals of Honor were awarded. In the Korean War, 133. In the conflict in Vietnam, 246. And in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, eight.

As I perused the citations from WWII, it became immediately clear that roughly 80% of the awards were for the “take the hill” variety. The other 20% or so were for self-sacrifice in saving or protecting the lives of fellow soldiers. In the Korean War, the number of “take the hill” awards dropped to about 50%, and fell further to about 25% during Vietnam. The number has dropped to zero in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It bears repeating that every Medal of Honor winner, including those from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, richly deserves our nation’s highest accolades. What I’m saying is that we have some “take the hill” soldiers who deserve it too but haven’t been getting it.

If we were granting the award today at WWII ratios, this would indicate that there are perhaps 40 deserving soldiers who have not received the honor they richly deserve for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m here to go to bat for them.

Again, here are the percentages of Medal of Honor awards given for valor in attacking enemy positions:

World War II:        80%
Korea:            50%
Vietnam        25%
Iraq, Afghanistan:    0%

Surely I’m not the only one to notice a trend here.

(Unless 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.)