04.30.2010 0

Video and Editorial: In Memory of Heroes

  • On: 05/31/2010 00:37:49
  • In: Uncategorized
  • “They are dead; but they live in each Patriot’s breast, And their names are engraven on honor’s bright crest.”—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Memorial Day commemorates those who have sacrificed to keep America free.

    Men like John Finn, who died this past week. Retired Navy officer Finn was the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient for actions during the Japanese attack of December 7, 1941. According to his Medal of Honor citation, during the attack by Japanese forces at Kaneohe Bay, Lt. Finn secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun fire.

    Although painfully wounded many times, Finn continued to man this gun to return the enemy’s fire vigorously, and with telling effect. He did so throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Despite his irrefutable courage and valor, Finn continuously refused the accolade of hero.

    When called a hero during a 2009 interview, Finn responded, “That damned hero stuff is a bunch crap, I guess. […] You gotta understand that there’s all kinds of heroes, but they never get a chance to be in a hero’s position.”

    Finn, like many Medal of Honor from World War II chose instead to identify the many others who died in the Pacific Islands, fields of Italy, jungles of Vietnam, sands of the Middle East and hills of Pennsylvania. Those valiant souls, who not knowing what enemy waited outside or overhead, chose to press forward, sacrificing their lives for the liberty of all.

    Heroes like 1st Lt. Alonzo Cushing, whose valiant stand protecting the Union on July 3rd, 1863 will never be forgotten. With his men from the Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery, the West Point graduate was defending Union ground on Cemetery Ridge against General Pickett in what has come to be known as “Pickett’s Charge.” Though having been wounded in both the groin and shoulder during the two-hour onslaught, Cushing stood his ground and the Confederate forces eventually retreated, having taken a large number of casualties from which the Confederacy could not recover.

    And United States Army Sgt. Leslie Sabo, who in 1970 died in Cambodia while trying to save his fellow soldiers from a North Vietnamese ambush. Sabo kept his men from being surrounded, threw himself on top of a wounded soldier to protect him from a grenade. While shot and wounded from the grenade, Sabo made the ultimate sacrifice while providing covering fire for a medical helicopter to airlift wounded soldiers.

    Memorial Day is about young 19-year old Spc. Ross McGinnis who, when an enemy grenade was thrown into his Humvee in Iraq, rather than leaping from the gunner’s hatch to safety, Private McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. A selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion.

    Memorial Day is exemplified by the names of all heroes — known and unsung — etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, the survivors who gather in remembrance every May, the families who hold vigil for lost loved ones.

    Theirs is the greatest work that can be done in a world where tyranny still exists, and such service has made it possible for freedom and independence to spread into regions where once it did not exist. For fighting, not just in the defense of Americans’ liberty, but of all peoples speaks of the nobility of our fighting men and women. They do not have to fight, but they volunteer anyway; our guardians of freedom and the American way of life. May their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honor.

    On this Memorial Day, each of us should take time to remember those whose sacrifice has made each of our freedom possible, and rededicate ourselves to defending freedom both at home and abroad.

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