Tuesday, January 11, 2005

There's an interesting--and inspiring--article by Rich Lowry in Jewish World Review detailing the heroic action of one Marine within Fallujah. His name was Rafael Peralta. The piece explains that he was a Mexican immigrant who joined the Marines immediately upon recieving his green card. Apparently he volunteered for the grim work of house-to-house combat in order to rid Fallujah of its insurgent population. In the process of clearing one house,

...the Marines entered a house and kicked in the doors of two rooms that proved empty. But there was another closed door to an adjoining room. It was unlocked, and Peralta, in the lead, opened it. He was immediately hit with AK-47 fire in his face and upper torso by three insurgents. He fell out of the way into one of the cleared rooms to give his fellow Marines a clear shot at the enemy. During the firefight, a yellow fragmentation grenade flew out of the room, landing near Peralta and several fellow Marines. The uninjured Marines tried to scatter out of the way, two of them trying to escape the room, but were blocked by a locked door. At that point, barely alive, Peralta grabbed the grenade and cradled it to his body.
His body took most of the blast. One Marine was seriously injured, but the rest sustained only minor shrapnel wounds. Cpl. Brannon Dyer told a reporter from the Army Times, "He saved half my fire team."

Not that anything like that is a "ho-hum" kind of matter, but I have read many examples (usually in my World War II magazine) of soldiers doing things for their buddies that people in non-military settings would find impossible to do. In my opinion, those who choose to serve as officers and NCO's in our Armed Forces have natural tendencies towards the ideals of the modern American military: selfless service and leadership by example. One of my main arguments against a universal draft is that those who are made to join the Army are, as a whole, less likely to cotton towards having the Army's ideas and values shoved down their throats. All you get is a resentful conscript who counts the days, hours, and minutes towards the end of his term. On the other hand, a volunteer is likely to have his own personal ethics and spiritual ideals reinforced and strengthened by the leaders--and sometimes subordinates--he encounters along the way. Ergo the supreme military might of the United States.
However, my militaristic fervor aside, Lowry makes an interesting point further down in the article.

Peralta's sacrifice should be a legend in the making. But somehow heroism doesn't get the same traction in our media environment as being a victim or villain, categories that encompass the truly famous Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England respectively.

Hmm. I wonder why that is. As a culture, we have become fixated on the exploits and suffering, respectively, of the evil and the traumatized. There are no reality shows with positive outlooks--all of the are bent on ridiculing or torturing both the unsuspecting and the willing. There is more mention of the tragic aftermath of the tsunami than the millions upon millions of dollars that many countries, most notably the U.S. ("stinginess" be damned) are sending to the afflicted areas. You can blame our (as a whole) morbid fascination with and, yes, even our outright ADMIRATION for the sick, the twisted, and the macabre on many things. I've said for years that we are a jaded culture, and the accusation still stands. Even 9/11 wasn't a good enough wake-up call; we hit the snooze alarm, wished for eight more years of complacency under a Clinton-esque chief executive, and pulled the pillow over our heads to drown out the sound of inbound aircraft engines.
The sacrifices and deaths of America's children--and adopted children, like Sgt. Peralta--will go unnoticed as long as it continues to slumber like Theoden upon his throne. Let us pray for a Gandalf to shake us from our darkened dreams.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can't enlist to become an officer.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Gryffilion said...

Right. You're sementically correct. I have altered my previous choice of words.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

In fact, you sure canbecome an officer via the route of enlisting first. Good officer material is noticed and encouraged to attend OCS (Officer Candidate School).Using the OCS portal to become an officer is a viable option for enlisted personnel.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

One like this would be suitable in GoV.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Gryffilion said...

Well, Anonymous didn't seem happy with my word choice, and I didn't want to annoy him--as we all know, anyone who uses the term "d*** face c*** muncher" over the 'Net is a powerful force to be reckoned with.

3:40 PM  

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