While many documentaries have been produced on the subject, they have tended to focus on the great heroes over the years that have been awarded the medal and their stories of bravery. But this documentray is supposed to have a new twist.
It will tell the story of the medal... and not the recipients. It will presumably go back to the days before the Medal was proposed and will hopefully touch on the most interesting history of the Badge of Merit and the Badge of Military Merit that go back to the days of General Washington and the Revolutionary War. The production would also get into the details of some of the hickups over the awarding of the medal over the years, how some were withdrawn, and how some of these were reissued and even how the medal itself got redesigned a few times and why.
I would hope that while researching and making the video considerable time be spent on what became known as the Purge of 1916-17 in which over 900 medal recipients were told to return their medals after holding them for about 50 yrs in some cases. And perhaps they can have a look at how that all came about, and how the demands that medals be returned violated the Constitution. One can only hope!
Future blogs on this site will cover the issue.
Readers however should not be confused with the use of the term. It applied to the society and NOT to the medal which is simply called the Medal of Honor.
Over the years the media has often been calling the medal by the wrong name and continues today to do so in many cases. Over the past few weeks there was a news clip, about the late, General Norman Schwarzkopf who had just passed away. A few days later another story told the world of the passing of the great baseball player Roberto Clemente. Just yesterday yet another story told us about a recent dedication of a statute to Mary Walker, the only woman in the history of the medal to be so awarded.
In the first and the last newsclips the medal was referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor, in error. The ball payer's medal was called the Congressional Medal of Honor. There is of course no such thing. What Roberto was presented with was a President's GOLD Medal, which of course is an entirely different medal.
The media have been told repeatedly by researchers including myself about the incorrect use of these terms but in so many cases they just don't seem to get it. That is unfortunate, because it takes away from otherwise good coverage in many of these same cases.
I would now like to talk about a third, and in a few minutes a fourth story. The third is an item about all the hot stories of 2012 and therein was of course the article about how the family of the late Sgt Leslie H Sabo Jr. were finally getting the Medal of Honor earned by Leslie back in 1970. Leslie was killed in Vietnam while saving the lives of many of his comrades. He was recommended for the MOH but the system then went and lost the paperwork.... for 30 years. It took another 12 to fix it.
The article also said that the US government has finally "closed the books on Vietnam". Bet the families haven't!
Anyone who has had the pleasure of investigating these stories of heroism knows that there are times, in fact far too many when the stories get all balled up. Someone has recorded the wrong name, or the wrong home town or place of birth or age. Someone has lost the paperwork. It goes on and on and on. One fellow actually wrote a book about the medal, and noted that his was a compedium of corrections to mistakes he found in a government produced book with over 600 mistakes in it. In a future blog I will be arguing that there are no less than 6 DOUBLE medal recipients that are currently not credited for these incredulous acts of courage.
The point I am trying to make is that for whatever reason, mistakes have happend far more than should have. And to suggest now that the government is closing books when it has such a record of getting it wrong seems nothing short of ridiculous. One must ask how many others are out there waiting to be recongnized?
The books should NEVER be closed on these heroes!
It is also interesting to note that whilst a US citizen, Leslie was in fact born in Austria. Kudo's to the US government since Civil War days in opening up its borders to those who want to become good citizens of their new country, and many of which put their lives in danger so that the rest of us can enjoy the freedoms we do. And many of these same heroes have give up their lives in the process.
This site is not to rain on the parade of our American cousins south of the border, but on the other hand it is to shine the light on those north of that border that did their best to also help to ensure the freedoms we all enjoy today. Many do not realize it but, if you look at the entire number of Medal of Honor recipients you would find that one in every five went to someone who was not born in the United States. Pick up 20 stories on the medal and count how many times you are given that fact.
Not sure how many war heroes can claim having flown 55 combat missions in WW11 and then another 51 in Korea..but Charles L Loring of Portand Maine did so. In his last mission, his plane was shot down but he had the bravery and tenacity to fly right into a gun emplacement to detroy enemy guns possing incredible danger to the allied troops in the immediate area.
Loring would die in this final act of bravery and was later awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. The family would erect a small memorial park in his honour and it was there that just a few days ago five 12 inch wreathes were stolen. Apperently the thief did not take the time to read the words...heart... presence...integrity and spirit engraved on the markers at the park.
I have a suggestion for this needy culprit. Escort him or her to the nearest recruitment centre and ship him or her off to a theatre of war where he or she can experience first hand what it is like to be in harm's way for your country.
Perhaps then he..or she.. will learn that freedom does not come from he end of a pen. It comes from the end of a riffle!