Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

 

The military has never been shy about awarding medals and giving recognition to those who receive them.  During WWII, it was not uncommon to see Medal of Honor recipients on the media trail, again doing their part, trying to drum up support and selling war bonds.  Every once in a while, heroic acts that are known to the commanders and survivors are lost to the pages of history, with the person or people involved never formally recognized.  Citations may be lost or down graded, occasionally, there may be a security reason as to why there is no public recognition.  It may not be politically or diplomatically viable to advertise the actions that may have had the desired strategic importance in the end, but may have had a cloudy reason for happening in the first place.  Sometimes, much to the chagrin to an institution that is known for not throwing anything out and documenting everything, paperwork is just lost.  This was just the case of Specialist 4, Leslie H. Sabo.

Special 4 Leslie H. Sabo

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Sabo was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor this week by President Obama, 42 years after his heroic actions helped save the lives of many men in his unit.  In doing so he sacrificed himself in order to stop the deadly fire and destroy an enemy bunker.  Prior to his final heroic act he had received shrapnel wound while using his body to shield a fellow soldier from a grenade blast.  Despite his wounds he was able to fire and maneuver towards the bunker, killing enemy en route.  He was able to destroy the bunker with a grenade that he had armed and waited until the last possible moment to throw, knowing this would likely kill him in the process.

The paperwork was lost to the sands of time until about 12 years ago when it was found by Alton Mabb at the National Archives.  Mabb was another veteran of the 101st Airborne, as was Sabo.  Mabb found the paperwork while conducting research for a different project.  He was familiar with the events and began to push the government to award Sabo the long over-due award.  His efforts paid off on May 16th when President Obama presented Sabo’s widow, Rose Mary, with his medal.  The next day at the Pentagon Sabo was inducted into the Hall of Heroes.

There are less than 100 living recipients of the Medal of Honor still alive today.  Remarkably, one of these recipients, Colonel Gordon Roberts, retired from active duty this week, 41 years after he received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Vietnam War.  He is just one month shy of his 62nd birthday.

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These two men are just a few of the brave men who performed against the odds on the field of battle in a country that just a few years before, very few had heard of, and in a war that was so unpopular back home that is just now, almost 40 years since the last combat troops departed, that they are receiving the recognition they deserve.  Colonel Roberts received the nations highest decoration for valor for actions that would probably seen him labeled with horrible monikers by the protestors that spoke so vehemently against the war and took the unfortunate path of blaming those sent to war, rather than the forces behind them going.  Colonel Roberts persevered and managed to make a career worthy of note despite those types of obstacles.

It is never the soldier who starts the wars, that is a failing in government and diplomacy at some level.  It is however, the soldier who is charged with carrying out the objectives of the government.  None of them make it out unscathed, each and every person who goes to war is affected by it in some way.  Even when they do so late, recognition by the government is needed, whether it be for individual actions such as that by Specialist Sabo or recognition for the force as a whole who sacrificed so much to arrive home to scorn and derision.  Recognition may give some small measure of comfort to those who had to give a part of who they are in order to carry out the orders they were handed and in doing so it reinforces the actions of the current service members who continue to fill the breach each and every day and that the personal consequences of the actions they may have to perform are recognized by their leaders and they will do their best to aid and assist them in dealing with them.

 

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This week from May 13th to the 19th is National Police Week.  Yesterday, the 15th was Peace Officers Memorial Day, a time to pay tribute to all the fallen police officers from the last year and years past.  Yesterday at the U.S. Capitol, President Obama delivered remarks for representatives of Law Enforcement Organizations from throughout the country and around the world, as well as family survivors of officers killed in the line of duty.  Flags throughout the country were flown at half-mast in honor of the fallen.

From Whitehouse.gov the President addressed the crowd with the following:

Every American who wears the badge knows the burdens that come with it — the long hours and the stress; the knowledge that just about any moment could be a matter of life or death.  You carry these burdens so the rest of us don’t have to.

And this shared sense of purpose brings you together, and it brings you to our nation’s capital today.  You come from different states and different backgrounds and different walks of life, but I know that you come here as a community:  one family, united by a quiet strength and a willingness to sacrifice on behalf of others.

The rest of us can never fully understand what you go through.  But please know that we hold you in our hearts — not just today, but always.  We are forever in your debt.  And it is on behalf of all of us, the entire American people, that I offer my thoughts, my prayers, and my thanks

According to Policeweek.org, President Kennedy, in 1962, “signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.”.  First attended in 1982, the memorial initially drew 120 survivors and law enforcement supporters.  It has grown to thousands from around the world with many events and gatherings throughout the week.

Our country lost over 160 law enforcement officers last year.  These dedicated people serve each and every day in a variety of conditions and environments.  The thing they all have in common is that they never know what each situation they find themselves in will bring them, and sometimes the most benign of situations can have the most hazardous of impacts.  Police officers walk the fine line between their own safety and that of the public with which they have sworn their protection, all too often the tragic consequences of that dedication leaves family members to sit in grief and wondering why.

As you read the morning paper each day this week and watch the ever present news cycle during the day, pay close attention to the number of times you see law enforcement serving and protecting the public.  Put aside the sensationalized and more rare than common negative incidents you may hear about police or their departments and think about how you or your family may have been affected, all those times you may never have known, that a police officer may have just saved your life or that of a family member because they were doing the job that only a few will do.