Still, criticism over the scant number of medals awarded led the Pentagon to review the citation process; findings are expected in the coming week. One of the most vocal critics has been Joseph Kinney, a 57-year-old Vietnam veteran from North Carolina, who says the dearth of medals has a demoralizing effect. Kinney, who has testified before Congress on the issue, spoke with NEWSWEEK's Dan Ephron. NEWSWEEK: Why are we seeing fewer medals? Joseph Kinney: I personally believe they (the administration) were terrified of doing anything that would make this look like a real war. I'm convinced they didn't want people knowing how lucky they were from the start. And I think they were doing everything they could to make this look like a little police action and not a real war-- It's a travesty these people were not recognized.This is an interesting situation. Four years of war, over a half million GIs fighting, and the Pentagon only feels two dead soldiers are worthy of medals of honor. This may seem like a slur upon all those soldiers. The military argues that they don't want to give medals to people they may have to take them back from. This brings to mind, in the first days and weeks of the war, when Jessica Lynch was first lauded as a hero, only to have the truth come out that she survived. Wikipedia gives this account:
Months after returning, Lynch finally began speaking to the public. Her statements tended to be sharply critical of the original story presented by the Pentagon. When asked about her hero status, "That wasn't me. I'm not about to take credit for something I didn't do... I'm just a survivor." She denied the claims that she fought until being wounded, reporting that her weapon jammed immediately, and that she could not have done anything anyway. Interviewed with Diane Sawyer, Lynch stated, concerning the Pentagon: "They used me to symbolize all this stuff. It's wrong. I don't know why they filmed [my rescue] or why they say these things". She also stated "I did not shoot, not a round, nothing. I went down praying to my knees. And that's the last I remember." She reported excellent treatment in Iraq, and that one person in the hospital even sang to her to help her feel at home.Maybe this incident also chastened the Pentagon and or the Bush administration to take an extra cautious policy on awarding medals. Newsweek asks Kinney, "How do you define courage? What makes a person fall on a grenade?" His answer is eminently quotable; There's no manual on being courageous. It's like art. You recognize when you see it. In response to his Newsweek interviewer's comment that this is a different era, a different war, without a draft, Kinney replies,
"If we had some heroes to celebrate, it would put more of a face on this war. We'd be able to understand more about what's going on. The war is pretty abstract. It's hard to celebrate dead people. I remember when our parents got our first TV, watching the "Sands of Iwo Jima." There were 27 medals at the time awarded there, all within six weeks. We used to have parades for military heroes up and down Fifth Avenue. There hasn't been a military hero paraded in New York in 53 years. We've gotten away from that culturally and I think it's something we ought to think about it." How to fix the problem? Kinney suggests that combat experienced vets be brought in, more involved, that the Generals are too worried about their careers. That's for sure, Bush has weeded out all the Generals with guts to speak up and advise the truth. All that are left are Generals who say what they think needs to be said to keep their jobs. This is another example of how the soldiers are being screwed by the Bush administration and the culture of obsequiance and managed image that must be tightly controlled. Just as caskets are not allowed to be shown when they arrive in the states, heroes-- true, examples of exemplary bravery and courage-- are also not allowed to be shown. Real heroes stand out from the average. They also show the danger the risk, the life threatening aspects of being at war. Maybe the military has decided it would be bad for recruiting-- that the lure of having the opportunity to become a real hero is outweighed by the deadly reality real descriptions of the situations real heroes face will be a turnoff to a generation of vido game playing enlistees who expect to go into battle playing heavy metal on their Ipods. Maybe Karl ROve and Bush's misguided advisors have decided that, like Kinney says, awarding real medals of honor to real heroes will accentuate the fact that this is a brutal bloody war. Maybe the pathetic generals running this war with eyes closed, with all their strings pulled by George Bush and his moron appointees, like Donald Rumsfeld, who "war hero" John McCain has called the worst in history, don't like real heroes getting attention they could be getting. Bottom line, the failure to recognize real courage-- to have the courage to make awards, even with the potential for mistakes-- is one more way, besides not providing body armor, not build hummers right, not taking care of families, cutting pay, and sending wounded to cockroach infested hospitals, that the Bush administration and its lackey military are failing, or worse, betraying, this generation of troops. When there is talk of supporting the troops, add this to the list of ways the right wing has failed to do its job. You have to wonder about the kind of culture-- military and political-- exists that is so immobilized by... whatever... that out of 500,000+ troops having been in the combat zone, they have been unable to resolve that any of them have acted heroically. Are they cowards, afraid to name someone who ends up speaking out against the war? Are they so managed by Rove-type media and image managers? Have these armchair, combat deprived generals made it so hard to meet the criteria because they are so clueless, as Kinney suggests? Any way you scope the reasons, it ain't pretty and it still amounts to a failure to support and honor the troops. This is one war where the troops have not been vilified by antiwar activists. We know the troops have gone into this war with good intentions. It is sad to see that not only have the leaders-- miliitary and civilian-- failed the in planning and executing the failed Iraq experiment, failed in supplying them, but they have failed them morally, failing to honor true courage and bravery. But that may be intentional Maybe, if there are no great heroes, then that makes it easier to sell the idea that everyone who enlists is a hero. Maybe that's easier to market to recruits than the real thing. Then again, that applies to a lot of territory, in this war, doesn't it?