Unheralded Medal of Honor Winners?
Mark at Liberty Just In Case contrasts the mainstream press’ treatment of past Medal of Honor recepients with that of SFC Paul R. Smith, who earned the award posthumously for bravery in Iraq.
Now, name the winner of the Medal of Honor on April 4, 2003…got it yet? No Search allowed. Come on. It was in all the papers, and recieved wall to wall coverage on all the Cable News networks when the awards ceremony occured last March. Chris Matthews had the family on Hardball. The Today show had them on, and Good Morning America did a special tribute to him. His picture and the story was the above the fold headline in The New York Times, The Washington Post and all the other papers…
Wait. None of that happened. The MSM didn’t give the story that kind of attention. At all. And still hasn’t.
Now, I agree that Smith’s name has not been honored in the same way that, say, Alvin York’s or Audie Murphy’s was. Still, the story was covered in the New York Times and by the AP that I know of, since I blogged on it at the time and quoted their stories. Further, I am sure the award ceremony was televised because I saw it.
I don’t have access to LexusNexus so the following may be inaccurate. Relying on the website archives, though:
- There were at least five relevant stories with mentions of “Paul R. Smith” in the Washington Post.
- Four in the New York Times.
- Only one, though, in the Los Angeles Times.
As to why Smith has not received the acclaim accorded York and Murphy, several explanations come to mind. Mark would point to the fact that the mainstream press supported WWII and have largely not supported this one. That is almost certainly part of the explanation. Indeed, the heroes of Korea and Vietnam don’t exactly come tripping off the tongue either, do they?
But there’s more to it than that. For one thing, Smith was killed in action while Murphy and York came home alive. Surely, a live Medal of Honor winner would be seen on television with some regularity even today.
Moreover, we simply live in a more cynical age. With the exception of post-9/11 firefighters, it is hard to think of any heroes that have received univeral acclaim. There are pseduo heroes aplenty–whether champion athletes, political whistleblowers, or what have you–but none that have the unreserved acclaim of a WWII Medal winner. Indeed, there would almost surely be some enterprising Woodward and Bernstein wannabes trying to dig up dirt on a York or a Murphy were they around today. That’s just the nature of our society.
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