Col. Joseph A. Simonelli Jr.
Col. Joseph A. Simonelli Jr.
I think I’m writing on behalf of not only our Army, but our nation in sharing the amount of pride I felt in seeing young Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta stand tall in the East Room of the White House last week and receive the Medal of Honor, the highest decoration in our military.
The story of his actions in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan in October 2007 is inspiring. To read about it in depth, check out Giunta’s own account of that day at www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4686 as he explained it to reporters via teleconference back on Sept. 15.
Those who know the details of his story would probably agree that his courage under fire was, again, inspiring. With that being said, Giunta rightfully wears the Medal of Honor. But in a general sense, his selfless actions in the Korengal Valley aren’t without parallel across our ranks.
Think of military service at its core. At some point in our lives we took an oath to serve and defend our country while obeying the orders of those who are appointed over us. We do our best to care for those close to us, while doing more to care for all of us, be it our squads, our battalions, our Army, and the citizens of our nation.
This Army does not offer an “easy street” life to those who serve; if it did, everyone would be joining. But it does offer a rare opportunity to be a part of something larger than just ourselves, and to stand up for ideals that we hold dear, along with standing up for one another. I like to think Giunta felt that when he advanced on insurgents who were dragging a fellow Soldier away into planned captivity more than three years ago.
My point is that I see heroic Soldiers every day as I walk this post – people who believe in something greater and prove it every day. Whether they perform quiet tasks here at Fort Bliss, take up arms in the name of liberty for others around the world, and in a lot of cases both, the spirit behind the awarding of the Medal of Honor last week signifies not only the actions of Giunta, but the selflessness of American Soldiers, period. Their work is part of a chain of success and any faulty or missing link hampers the system.
Never forget that medals do not make Soldiers; actions do – and whether they are publically recognized or not, those actions are appreciated every day. Like a great man once said, “in war, the heroes always outnumber the Soldiers 10 to one.” Heroes walk among us every day.
To change gears, Thursday, of course, is Thanksgiving. If you’re able to sit at a table with loved ones and enjoy the holiday, please join me and my family in thinking of our fellow Soldiers on duty here in the U.S. and abroad, and those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice. Let us leave a place for them at the Thanksgiving dinner table in our hearts.