I want to start by being absolutely clear that Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta is an extraordinary hero. In the same circumstance that he found himself in that prompted his being granted the Medal Of Honor I may very well have simply huddled in a corner blubbering and wetting my pants.
With that said I wish to examine the dynamics of what creates this and our other decorated heroes. Staff Sgt. Giunta has gone to great lengths to downplay his actions with the old “Aw shucks, I was just doing my job ma’am” mantra. I expect that the humility is real, and that he really feels that way. Now again, I do not wish to downplay Staff Sgt Giunta’s extraordinary heroism at all, but rather to emphasize all of the heroes that we will never know of. We will never know of them or recognize their equal heroism to Staff Sgt Giunta’s because the bullet was two feet to the left or right, or because they were first in line instead of third.
Now Staff Sergeant Giunta to his credit has emphasized this repeatedly, that in the same situation his comrades would do, or would have done the same. Sgt. Josh Brennan could have as easily been second or third in line that day and instead of taking the bullet(s) that killed him he could be standing at the podium next to President Obama receiving his Medal Of Honor while proclaiming that his fallen comrade, Staff Sergeant Giunta would have done the same for him. Again, not to beat a dead horse but this diatribe is not to diminish the Staff Sergeant Giunta’s of the world but to elevate the rest to where they rightfully belong. We all too easily overlook that war is generally a horrible roulette wheel of the universe with the odds stacked obscenely for the house. With the amount of deadly metal flying in every direction in any battle from bullets to shrapnel cutting down soldiers randomly we will never know how many more Staff Sergeant Giunta’s we could be honoring for extraordinary heroism. I understand that we need our heroes, and heroism. It is invaluable in making us all strive for the greatness available in the core of humankind, and that it brings us all up to a better us. But as we give Staff Sergeant Giunta his well deserved honor and admiration we should not forget any of these soldiers, airmen, and sailors who go about their every day thinking, just like Staff Sergeant Giunta, that they are “…Just doing their jobs,” when they are doing so much more. We should never forget that but for a bullet, or shrapnel, passing a few inches in another direction, or other plain dumb luck they could as easily be the guy at the podium receiving the medal, or the guy in the veterans hospital with half of his body blown off, or in the ground, or the guy back home telling of being rescued by their buddy, the hero. So as you see that uniform, wherever it is, do not forget that every one of these that put themselves in harm’s way for you and for me are extraordinary and deserving of the respect and honor of anyone wearing a Medal Of Honor. And I know that it can feel awkward, but as you pass them by without the recognition they deserve, stop – Go back and let them know that they are wrong… that they are not just doing their job – That they are all extraordinary heroes.