Archive for October, 2010

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the most prestigious distinction of military decoration awarded by the United States government. However, the Pentagon has come under scrutiny for the number of medals honored in Afghanistan and Iraq compared to previous wars. Given the advancement in technology with drone attacks and improvised explosive devices, soldiers find it harder to defend themselves against such attacks yet do not have to risk immersing themselves in one-on-one firepower combat.

However, war veterans argue that the Pentagon has created “an almost impossible standard” in being awarded the medal since the Pentagon  has become more cautious in light of technological advancements in forensics. The Pentagon was also exposed by news media for falsifying the narratives of Army Ranger Pat Tillman and Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch to justify their Medal of Honors. With the recent case of  Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who was nominated by the Marine commandant for the Medal of Honor for smothering a grenade in Fallouja, Iraq, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.  He was denied the Medal of Honor sparking criticism of the Pentagon.

Which makes me question, has the Pentagon process of awarding medals become more politicized? Every organization associated with the government wants to protect its reputation in the face of public scrutiny. However, if a soldier defends his country against attack and goes above and beyond the call of duty, there should be a medal awarded. However, as wars have become more and more publicized, criticized, and politicized, the Pentagon has hesitantly awarded medals hoping to avoid as much embarrassment as possible.

Not that I’m advocating we give medals to every soldier for a job well done. But I do question the process of awarding medals. Yes, distinctions and varying requirements in types of medals and awards must be made. However, with the politicized nomination and confirmation process of United States Supreme Court justices, could the Medal of Honor awarding process be moving in the same direction? Regardless of the Pentagon’s political leanings, it scares me to think that even honoring a fallen soldier would have to face skepticism for his political stances.


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