American service men and women are well deserving of our gratitude, respect and honor in society. Even delayed or posthumous medals are often given out of appreciation for their sacrifice and dedication to our country. Two recent honors were bestowed upon men that have served our country during time of war, but the names we do not know also deserve the unspoken honor we hold in our hearts.
After lost paperwork and many delays, Army Captain William Swenson was the recipient of the Medal of Honor, October 16, in a White House ceremony. The award is an official recognition of service to our country in a wartime battle. President Barack Obama led the ceremony for Swenson and placed the special medal around his neck, almost four years after the captain helped evacuate soldiers during a battle in Afghanistan. William Swenson earned the honor long ago, but was not overlooked or forgotten. His bravery from 2009 was simply delayed as the honored soldier accepted the prestigious award for his outstanding service. He left the service in 2011, but is actively trying to re-enlist for duty.
The Medal of Honor was first established during the American Civil War and has different designs for each branch of service. One of our favorite presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, was honored with the award along with many who followed the great role model. The Medal of Honor is the highest award to be given to a service man or woman. The honor and entitlement secures a lifetime of special air transportation, acceptance for their offspring to enter military academies, and personal interment into Arlington National Cemetery, among other long standing benefits and recognition.
Earlier in the week, Army Ranger Josh Hargis was awarded the purple heart. The Purple Heart was designated as an honor for those wounded or killed during a mission. The 24 year old from Cincinnati, Ohio, was involved in a battle in Afghanistan and suffered the loss of both his legs. He tried desperately to join the army for years after enduring a broken femur from a skiing accident. He finally made the cut and went on to prove his skill and dedication with his service and high character. Hargis joins the ranks of other great Americans such as John F. Kennedy, Colin Powell and Chuck Yeager and many, many others who earned the honor of the Purple Heart.
It was especially touching at Josh Hargis’ ceremony as he was seemingly unconscious and hooked up to tubes of life with bandages surrounding his body. The comatose man was alert enough to know what was happening as he struggled to lift his arm in a salute. The Army officials, doctors and nurses stood in awe with tears in their eyes, as the young man somehow knew what was going on. His display of strength and fortitude during hard times was evident as the Purple Heart was placed on his blanketed chest.
Inspiration from both of these men will last a lifetime as they are honored and exhibit the will to continue to serve. The actions against the enemy have been accomplished and the drive that sustains the power to go on, will live on as each of these great warriors continue to battle with losses that have made them stronger. Josh Hargis, newly married and expecting his first child, will recover in San Antonio, Texas for ongoing care. The Medals of Honor have been bestowed, but the excellence of these two individuals are only examples of all of our great service men and women.
Written by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon