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 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.