05 November 2007

Congressional Medal of Honor Awarded to Lt. Michael Murphy

I'll wager that most folks, unless they explicitly follow military matters in the news, are not even aware that a U.S. Navy SEAL named Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on Oct. 22.

The Navy has erected an entire website in Lt. Murphy's honor. Please, go read about him, and about his life, and about his sacrifice.

Basically, he completely ignored any risk to himself in order to do his duty, to save the lives of his team.

If you're like me, you didn't notice the front page news stories, or the tributes on the evening news. Maybe they had some, I don't know. But if they did, it didn't cause much of a ripple in the public consciousness.

This is stunning. The lack of public acknowledgement and regard for his heroism, and his valor, in the cause of freedom. It doesn't reflect well on us as a people, I'm sad to say.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the "highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States". It's a big deal, a very, very big deal.

Yet out here in the real world, nobody seems to talk about it, or read about it, or even know about it. We as Americans should know about it, and we should care about it, because part of the reason that brave and admirable young men and women like Lt. Murphy sometimes give their lives is because of who we are, and what we stand for.

They wouldn't bother joining the service in the first place if we didn't have something worth fighting for, here.

Recently, Ken Burns' "The War" was on PBS, amid great fanfare, and I'm sure it got great ratings. I watched much of it myself. Burns did a fine job of showing the horror of war, and the sacrifices made by so many brave young men and women. Over and over, we heard about both civilians and military folk bearing great personal burdens, and sometimes giving their lives, in order to advance the larger cause.

And yet I have to wonder, how many of those watching it realized that 61 years after D-Day, we have other young people making the same sacrifices today? Does Burns himself even realize it? Does PBS? If so, why the hagiography only for heroes from 60 years ago? Where are the stories about today's heroes?

But enough about that. Now is the time to read this fine account of Lt. Murphy's story, and then take a few seconds to thank God that others do our fighting for us. It's hearing stories like his that give me hope for our future as a culture.

Godspeed, Lt. Murphy. My sincere condolences to all his family and friends.