By: Steve Trubilla
Celebrities and what is called the "A" list crowd have grown fond of medals. Most would never consider serving in the military, such things are beneath them, and they show contempt for it.
I can assure them the contempt is mutual.
Self-serving politicians use some of our nation's highest awards, like The Presidential Medal of Freedom as reward for personal favors, gratuity for campaign contributions, and to pursue their personal gain.
They cheapen the awards, passing them out like worthless trinkets, and dishonor the valor and meritorious service of true patriots.
At the highest levels, they have even awarded each other medals. It is pathetic, showing they truly have no shame.
Recently, I watched as during the presentation of medals, people joked and laughed. It angered me. Clearly the medals meant nothing to them.
Today, less than one percent serves in the military. Fewer in Congress have served now than any other time in our history.
Thinking about this, I thought I would lend a little insight to the real meaning of these awards.
Medals, decorations, and awards, "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon," is a quote attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte.
My experience is this is true only of the untested. Things change quickly with the report of a first round, or flash of explosion.
Colored ribbons by themselves mean nothing. What they say without words of those that wear them mean everything.
Silver wings on my son's chest, a line from Staff Sergeant Barry Saddler's song, "The Ballad of the Green Beret." Those Wings, like the Seal's Trident, the Marine Corps Eagle Globe and Anchor, the Ranger Patch, and the Air Force Pararesque Badge tell the story of America's young lions, her warrior elite and their way of life. They reflect the sacrifices of their families.
These devices are much more than just pins and patches.
Many years ago as a young Marine, I remember seeing the "Old Salts" in their dress uniforms. Fruit salad stacked four across, row upon row. How in awe of them I was.
Purple Hearts, Silver and Bronze Stars, the Navy Cross, campaign medals, and so many others, yes even the Medal of Honor. I have seen them all etched on markers at our national cemeteries.
It is said rank has its privilege, true it is, but medals, be it Private or General, all must be earned. That is the way it should be, it must be. Privilege does not merit their award.
History reveals, General George Washington, the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, created the "Badge for Military Merit," an award to be presented to soldiers for high achievement. With it passed great trust.
The award is known to have been given only to three soldiers during the Revolutionary War. An occurrence so rare it speaks to a standard for award well set, and then measured to by only a few. The "Badge for Military Merit" was the forerunner of what is known today as the Purple Heart.
The next time you see some celebrity, politician, or sports figure being decorated with a medal, really watch the ceremony, ask yourself, is it a Badge of Merit, or something much less, maybe stolen valor.
What I have written here does not mean one has to have worn a military uniform to be a patriot, or be deserving of high recognition. Rather it is to say honor those that deserve it.
To all I say, thank you for your service.
The text of this article was published on January 19, 2017 in the Franklin Times newspaper in Louisburg, North Carolina. "Paper Bullets"