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
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
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
Surely I’m not the
only one to notice a trend here.
noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect
the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)