Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Purple Hearts for Fort Hood?

Should the 14 dead and 30 wounded in the murderous rampage of Nadil Malik Hasan at Fort Hood, Texas , be awarded the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom? How our nation answers that will speak volumes about how seriously we take the conflict in which we have long been embroiled and with which we'll be dealing for years to come.

The Purple Heart, created on 7 August 1782 by George Washington, is the nation's oldest decoration. It was originally known as the Badge of Military Merit and was at the time a decoration for "Not only instances of unusual gallantry, but also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way shall meet with a due reward." As far as is known, it was only awarded to three Connecticut Non-Commissioned Officers before falling into disuse after the Revolutionary War. On 22 February 1932, the 200th Anniversary of Washington's birth, it was revived to recognize both meritorious service and military wounds (there may still be a few living recipients who earned theirs for merit before it became exclusively a decoration for combat wounds during World War II). In 1984 awards for casualties suffered as the result of terrorist attacks were authorized and a year later the criteria was expanded to include wounds suffered as the result of "friendly fire."

The Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom was created in the aftermath of 9/11 to recognize civilian employees of the Department of Defense who were injured or killed in the line of duty; awards to non-DoD employees, to include contractors, are authorized with the approval of the Secretary of Defense. Its creation was necessitated by a change made in 1998 that made civilians ineligible to receive the Purple Heart.

Whether or not Nadil Malik Hasan was officially operating as an agent of a foreign group has yet to be determined. It is clear, however, that he is a radical Islamist who was in contact (some 20 emails) with highly placed leaders of Al-Qaeda. It is indisputable that his actions brought joy and celebration among our enemies. This was an act of war, and those who were killed and wounded in it deserve to be recognized as such. That includes, incidentally, the pre-born child of PFC Francheka Valez, who wouldn't have been there if their mother hadn't been a soldier.

I seriously doubt that either of those things will happen, though. To award those medals would be an admission that this was indeed a terrorist act and the leaders involved, both civilian and military, seem determined to avoid that at all cost. To recognize the pre-born baby in any way, even to admit its existence, would be to acknowledge that they were a person and the Administration of the most militantly pro-abortion President in American history is hardly likely to do that!

But refusal to recognize a pair a truths does not make those truths any less true!

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