Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where do we get such men?

Today, President Obama will present the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry.  During a daylight raid in Afghanistan, then Staff Sergeant Petry left a place of relative safety to help fellow Rangers clear a building.  After being wounded, he took cover with other soldiers in a chicken coop.  When insurgents threw a grenade into their position, he scooped it up and threw it away from his fellow soldiers.  The grenade went off just as it left his right hand, blowing it off.  Petry put a tourniquet on his own arm to stop the bleeding and rejoined the fight.

I am always amazed by these stories.  Remember, I was in a nominally peace time army.  Our heroes came from the first Gulf War and Vietnam.  But plain old regular men and women who were Corporals and Lieutenants when I was in are now senior NCO's and officers, and have served through 10 years of war.  There are going to be stories of heroics from all corners of this conflict for years to come.  SFC Petry himself has deployed 8 times in this war, and is still serving other wounded warriors minus his right hand.  Think about that the next time you complain about having to work a weekend.

We don't raise our sons and daughters to be warriors in this country.  JROTC programs in our high schools tend to be a tiny percentage of the students, and the Boy Scouts has cut a lot of its doctrinal ties with the military.  Service isn't emphasized in our schools anymore.  Heck, civics and patriotism are actively de-emphasized.  But it never seems to be hard to find young men and women who are willing to give up, at the very least, what could be the best years of their lives in order to serve all of us.

SFC Petry, thank you for your sacrifice and your service.  Men like you, recognized or not, belong in the pantheon of heroes.

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