Sergeant Salvatore Giunta will receive a Congressional Medal of Honor this week for bravery under fire in October 2007. At great risk, he assaulted a hill and rescued a gravely wounded comrade being dragged away by an insurgent. He will be the first living soldier to receive the medal since the war in Vietnam.
The man Giunta rescued did not survive, and the US forces eventually abandoned the Korengal Valley where the fighting took place. Giunta, 25, saw his actions this way:
"I ran to the front because that is where he (the wounded comrade) was. I didn't try to be a hero and save anyone."
As for the ten-year-old war in Afghanistan, he said, "I have sweat more, cried more, bled more in this country than in my own. These people won't leave this valley. They have been here far before I could fathom an Afghanistan."
Giunta's generous modesty and the strong bond he has with his fellow soldiers is the classic stuff of war legend. He's an archetypal national war hero from the mold of Gary Cooper playing Sergeant York of WWI fame.
Sergeant Salvatore Giunta by - Unknown
Sergeant Giunta deserves to be honored as do many young soldiers like him whose heroism under fire may go unknown or unrecognized beyond their unit.
Meanwhile, back "in the world" -- as the home front was known to soldiers in Vietnam -- politics in America continues along the tragic and absurd course it has been on for too long.
The timing of a public White House Medal of Honor awarding ceremony is good for the White House and the Pentagon as they are about to release their much-telegraphed December Assessment of the war in Afghanistan. No doubt the medal awarding is just coincidental.
The report is expected to say the usual: While there are serious problems with our military mission in Afghanistan, progress is being made. It is also clear now the President's original date for withdrawal -- July 2011 -- is nothing but a fading public relations marker. The new date being floated is the end of 2014. Read that as: We don't care what the polls say, we're keeping troops in Afghanistan until we feel we can leave without too much embarrassment.
On the left, President Obama is increasingly seen as an appeasing force. He campaigned on the Afghan War to apparently secure his political manhood. He opened his Health Care struggle by giving away anything that might smack of a single-payer system before negotiations even began.
After doing this, he was slandered as a "socialist." Most people I know wish he would do something to rightfully deserve that epithet or accolade, depending on one's politics.
One of the more interesting attacks on President Obama has come from Indian immigrant Dinesh D'Souza, a right wing intellectual who has just written a book called The Roots Of Obama's Rage and a Forbes article called "How Obama Thinks."
For D'Souza, the secret to Obama's so-called "rage" is the mission he presumably took from his father, Barack Obama Sr, a Kenyan economist who, during the intense period of African anti-colonial struggle, wrote a well-respected article in the East Africa Journal called "Problems Facing Our Socialism."
Out of this information and the title to President Obama's memoir, Dreams From My Father, D'Sousa has concocted a noxious brew of propaganda that plays on two things: America's long tradition and deep history of anti-African racism, and the current "neo-colonial" reality of our military mission around the world and, specifically, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The D'Souza argument is as brilliant as it is insidious.