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March 27, 2009
I need a photo-opportunity, I want a shot at redemptionBy Greyhawk
Get these mutts away from me
It took a while before all the pieces came together on this story, but the puzzle is solved, and here's the full picture.
The Above & Beyond Citizen Honors are well-earned recognition, and not easy to receive:
The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation today announced and nationally honored the Above & Beyond Citizen Honors recipients for 2009. After a nationwide search and selection process, three Americans have been selected for their selflessness and indomitable courage.This year, the three chosen honorees are Rick Rescorla, David Bryan, and Jeremy Hernandez. Their selections resulted in well-deserved local news coverage.
Bryan was among three ordinary citizens recognized this year for showing extraordinary courage by saving other people's lives at great peril to themselves. The awards were presented Wednesday, March 25, at a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.Hernandez:
Jeremy Hernandez of Minneapolis, Minnesota was one of three Americans honored today with the Above & Beyond Citizen Honor award. The honor is one of the most prestigious civilian awards, chosen by the less than 100 living Medal of Honor recipients.And Rescorla
Daniel J. Hill of St. Augustine, Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Special Forces soldier, met Rick Rescorla, a former British paratrooper, in Northern Rhodesia -- now Zambia -- in 1961 while both were fighting insurgents.(Yes, that's a name all Mudville readers should know.)
The 2009 Above & Beyond Citizen Honors recipients were recognized by our nation's most honored heroes, the fewer than 100 living Medal of Honor recipients, in the shadow of the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. The Tomb of the Unknowns represents the epitome of courage, sacrifice and selflessness in service to our nation.One name that doesn't appear in the plan (or any other pre-written coverage) is the guy who showed up for an unannounced photo op:
Resulting in national (AP) coverage - with the story morphed into an Obama praise piece:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama made an unannounced stop at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday to pay respects to recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award....without a word about why the Medal of Honor recipients had gathered there.
At the time, my favorite blogger speculated he was making up for this:
In this case, the American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America, as well as other veteran's groups, were sponsoring their gala that has coincided with the inaugural evening since Eisenhower took office in 1953. In total, nine presidents and 56 years have gone by, and each inaugural evening the new president arrived to thank the veterans and Medal of Honor recipients in attendance. As one of the "unofficial" balls, it meant quite a bit to have the president show up and make an appearance....but I was willing to believe the President was sincere in his efforts to recognize MOH recipients (and I still am).
But at the time I didn't know the rest of the story - the presentation of the Above & Beyond Citizen Honors by the Medal of Honor recipients that was rather
Robert Howard was the toughest, bravest cat in the jungle, but he deserved a better war than Vietnam. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor three times for three separate operations behind enemy lines.In Vietnam there were only scapegoats? Ironically, in Vietnam there was also Rick Rescorla - and a lot of other soldiers doing what they had to do.
But thanks to President Obama, CBS concludes, "Robert Howard is an unknown hero no longer." Somehow, even when surrounded by Medal of Honor recipients and the civilians they want to honor, the media makes them a sideshow (or forgets them altogether) in a story about Obama.
I'm sure Col (ret) Howard was honored to finally meet the President. But I wonder if Obama (or his CBS news crew) knew he was meeting a President, too?
Posted by Greyhawk / March 27, 2009 12:18 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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