Wednesday, March 26, 2008

National Medal of Honor Day

Today is National Medal of Honor Day, a fact that my local newspaper, The Seattle Times, failed to note. I suspect this is true for most daily newspapers who have been filling their newsholes with breathless reports of Obama's triumphant return from his Virgin Islands vacation, Hillary dodging sniper fire and declines in the housing market, which, like sunspots and Nancy Pelosi's staccato blink rate, is George Bush's fault. In an act of heroism, yesterday, the principal of Forest Lake High School in Twin Cities, Minnesota, cancelled a National Heroes Tour scheduled to speak to a gathering of social studies classes. It seems several parents complained that such contact with military personnel would be too political. Garrison Keillor is undoubtably working on a letter of commendation.

You can find out more about the Congressional Medal of Honor Society here. If you read the stories of the holders of the Medal, you will be given the gift of humility.

One good place to start is with Corporal Tibur "Teddy Rubin, who I was directed to by an FBI agent I had the pleasure of meeting on booktour in Los Angeles a couple months ago. A selection from the citation:

Corporal Tibor Rubin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period from July 23, 1950, to April 20, 1953, while serving as a rifleman with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea. While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by his withdrawing unit. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely (my italics) by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully. Following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 8 th Cavalry Regiment proceeded northward and advanced into North Korea. During the advance, he helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. On October 30, 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea, during a massive nighttime assault. That night and throughout the next day, he manned a .30 caliber machine gun at the south end of the unit's line after three previous gunners became casualties. He continued to man his machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted. His determined stand slowed the pace of the enemy advance in his sector, permitting the remnants of his unit to retreat southward. As the battle raged, Corporal Rubin was severely wounded and captured by the Chinese.

Sins of the Assassin is dedicated to the three men who have most recently been awarded the Medal: Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, Corporal Jason l. Dunham, and Lt. Michael Murphy. It seems to me that if we do not honor the warriors who protect us, there will come a time when we will desperately need such men and women, and they will not be there.