Remember all the heroes in Iraq

This Memorial Day, the MSM, as usual, will focus vigorously on the ones who didn't make it, or who barely made it. I will say a prayer for them too, but, as does the WSJ, I'll also remember the ones who do make it, and who every day display their courage, competence and patriotism:

Here's a Memorial Day quiz:

1. Who is Jessica Lynch?

Correct. She's the Army private captured, and later rescued, in the early days of the war.

2. Who is Leigh Ann Hester?

Come on. The Kentucky National Guard vehicle commander was awarded a Silver Star last year for fighting off an insurgent attack on a convoy in Iraq. The first woman to receive a Silver Star since World War II, and the first woman ever to receive one for close combat.

If you don't recognize Sergeant Hester's name, that's not surprising. While Private Lynch's ordeal appears in some 12,992 newspaper and broadcast reports on the Factiva news service, Sergeant Hester and her decoration for extraordinary valor show up in only 162.

One difference: Sergeant Hester is a victor, while Private Lynch can be seen as a victim. And when it comes to media reports about the military these days, victimology is all the rage. For every story about someone who served out of conviction and resolutely went on with his civilian life, there are many more articles about a soldier's failure or a veteran's floundering.

It's a sign of some progress that the men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are not spit upon and shunned as Vietnam vets were. Yet there may be something more pernicious about mouthing "Support Our Troops" while also asserting that many of them are poor, uneducated dupes who were cannon fodder overseas and have come home as basket cases, plagued by a range of mental, emotional and financial problems.

The vast majority of vets don't fit that description. Many, like one returned Army guardsman we talked to, chalk up this portrayal to the media's fascination with bad news in general. As for his combat in Iraq, both "going to war and coming home is very overwhelming," he says. "But you make choices in life . . . and through inner strength and support, I am making a choice that I want to be healthy."

In some cases, the depiction of military personnel as damaged goods serves the antiwar agenda. Yet retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Tom Linn sees more basic impulses at work. "I honestly believe it is guilt" and even resentment, he says. The military type as misfit "is a stereotype that a lot of people from the Vietnam era have held on to." Then, as now, "they saw men and women who did more than they did . . . and they'd compensate by casting those folks in an inferior status."

By the way, you can read about Sgt. Hester, as well as a few more of the 170 Silver Star winners in Iraq, here.  And, in case you're wondering, these are real, contemporaneous Silver Star winners, not the weird, ex post facto John Kerry kind of winners.

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  • soccer dad

    One thing I’ve wanted to do was to add a feature to my blog called Military Monday. There are so many heroes and information on them at htt:// that I could have a weekly feature. I haven’t done it, but maybe now I have the impetus to start.

  • Ymarsakar

    I liked how John Kerry recommended himself for a medal. How many real heroes have “wanted” these medals and actively lobbied for them?

  • Ymarsakar

    I really dislike it when people say the media is reporting bad news cause bombs sell. Somebody flunked propaganda 101 and psychology 101, because it is pretty obvious that if American Idol was all about people getting blown up and killed, they wouldn’t be netting those millions of people watching. If it is only just about “defeats” and never victories, then few if anyone will tune in.

    They don’t even know how to do entertainment right, how do you expect them to report the truth or a balanced case? Over There does a better job of reporting on the Iraq war than AP/Reuters, and I’m being serious.

    People like seeing the underdog win. Since America isn’t the underdog in Iraq, Americans have a duty, when doing entertainment or news, to FIND those freaking underdogs that aren’t our enemies and promote them. If the enemy finds some woman and child and blows them up, show a story about this weak and defenseless woman andchild, and then compare that defeat to a successfull Coalition attack.

    When American MP companies are ambushed by 5 to 10X their number on a pre-chosen terroist ambush spot, the “Patriots” have a duty to show the American underdogs winning. That brings in ratings, that brings in people watching.

    Infotainment my arse, if the AP/CNN/BBC/Reuters/CBC reporting on Iraq is infotainment, then American Idol is a communist propaganda ploy to introduce Chinese culture. Entertainment draws people in, it makes them sad, it makes them cry, it makes them sublimely joyous at the same time. This is drama, and only incompetents can’t even make use of drama already produced for them.

    Bombs don’t sell. Criminals having their heads chopped off by their victims, the underdog winning, and happy endings SELL. This is the crucifial difference. If you really want to give people what they want, you don’t ask them what they want, you show it to them and see if you are correct. If instead, you want people to believe in your propaganda rather than for greedy/ratings reasons, then you just show them what you think they want and do it over and over and over until everyone in Iraq is dead.

    The media always responds when you criticize them for reporting bad news by saying, “we have to report bad news, we just can’t report the good news and be the propaganda apparatus of America and Bush”. Does American Idol judges only report the Good News? No. Are there more AMericans watching American Idol than the news organizations combined? Yes.

    So there you go. There is so much drama and good material in the Iraq War, that you can create more powerful personalities, more personal sadnesses and joys, than American Idol. When someone is voted off American Idol, do they say he sucked and wasted his life? No.

    This is one of those things that have bugged me ever since day one of the Iraq Invasion.

  • Kristine

    Thank you…we need reminders here and there. keep an eye on my blog. i have a ton of memorial Day poetry that may or may not get scanned this weekend as I’ve just answered the call to babysit. How is it that a person can hate this war as much as I do and still feel compassion for those that are fighting it? What do you think?

  • Bookworm

    Kristine: No one likes war. Sometimes, though, we recognize it as a necessary means to an important end. That’s why we value those who fight — because they’re willing to put their own lives on the line for the benefit of their country. I should add here that, while I’ve supported the war from the beginning, whether the war was a good idea has become a moot point. America is at war, and you fight a war to win. The only other option is losing, which is both a short term and long term disaster.

  • Ymarsakar

    I tend to see BW’s argument as “protest the war all you want before it happens, but when it does happen, stop protesting about it until the war is over”.