Today is National Medal of Honor Day. We respect and honor the service of the courageous individuals who’ve EARNED this award (As opposed to "WON" this award... believe me, it's not a contest), many of whom sacrificed their lives for their fellow soldiers. These are the best of our nation, and their examples inspire us all.
I have, at one time, or another, read every Medal of Honor Citation I can find... because I never cease to be amazed by the common threads that run through these exploits.
A love of country... a love of their fellow soldiers, as many died sacrificing themselves so that others in their unit might live... an almost ethereal sense of commitment and duty.
I defer to the remarks of President Harry S Truman, presenting the Medal to 15 recipients in October of 1945:
October 12, 1945
WELL, once again I have had a very great privilege. I would rather do what I have been doing this morning than any other one of my arduous duties. This one is a pleasure.
When you look at these young men, you see the United States of America, the greatest republic on earth, the country that can meet any situation when it becomes necessary.
These young men were doing their duty. They didn't think they were being heroes. They didn't think they were doing anything unusual. They were just doing what the situation called for.
As I have told the rest of these young men who have been here before me, I would much rather have that Medal around my neck than to be President of the United States. It is the greatest honor that can come to a man. It is an honor that all of us strive for, but very few of us ever achieve.
Now these young men will go back and become citizens of this great country, and they will make good citizens; and you won't find any of them bragging about what they have done or what they propose to do. They are just going to be good citizens of the United States, and they are going to help us take this Republic to its leadership in the world, where it belongs, and where it has belonged for the past 25 years.
Thank you very much for giving me this pleasure and this privilege.
Note: The presentation was made by the President in a ceremony on the South Lawn at the White House. The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to the following members of the Armed Forces from the European and Pacific theaters: Cpl. T. A. Atkins, Cpl. Edward A. Bennett, Cpl. M. E. Biddle, Capt. J. M. Burt, Cpl. C. B. Craft, Cpl. Desmond T. Doss, T. Sgt. F. V. Homer, T. Sgt. C. H. Karaberis, Sgt. T. J. Kelly, Sgt. D. J. Kerst
Citation: John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters,The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database). Available from World Wide Web: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=12316.