I applaud your decision to publish journalist Ed Hooper’s column “Leave Medal of Honor process alone” (Opinion, Oct. 3). However, I have to question the fact that he takes exception to Defense Secretary Robert Gates [possibly] being required to review the current policy on Medal of Honor recommendation.
Hooper’s use of comparison with the British Victoria Cross is, at best, informative, regardless of whether it has any bearing on this situation. I am reminded of the quote by Scottish writer Andrew Lang, “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts ... for support rather than illumination.”
It’s not only appropriate that our civilian leadership review the criteria for our nation’s highest award, it is their responsibility. Hooper states that part of the criteria for the award will be how future generations view the recipient of the award and why it was bestowed. Given that assertion, isn’t it realistic to think that future generations will think that the criteria for the Medal of Honor in this war was that the individual must have given his or her life in the process of the heroic actions?
I have seen numerous accounts of heroism throughout this war by heroes who lived to tell their tale. Some actions resulted in the award of a Bronze Star with a “V” Device and others resulted in the award of a Silver Star. It is unbeknownst to us if, in fact, the awards were merely interim awards while the research is being done to prevent, as Hooper states, Homeric tales of bravery being submitted and later disproved at the expense and embarrassment of the individual, the family, and the institution.
It is altogether appropriate that Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., leaned forward simply to ask the question, “Are we being fair?” If, in the end, we are, then we should move forward.
Command Sgt. Maj. David J. LitteralBaghdad