As I look back at the last time I posted about the War in Iraq, I’m ashamed. Ashamed that I let the Republican Party hijack my blog into posting things about the distraction that is Sarah Palin, and all the while men and women and children continue to die in an illegal and unjust war. Today I came across a stark reminder of how manipulated this war really is. Of the 4,168 US soldiers who have died in the War in Iraq, only 5 have been awarded the Medal of Honor (compared with 324 awarded during World War II, and 245 during the Vietnam War). And now, one more soldier who sacrificed his own life in an act that I cannot even imagine, has been denied the medal, despite sworn eyewitness testimony and expert analysis of his wounds.
A rare decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to reject a Marine Corps recommendation that one of its heroes receive the Medal of Honor has angered Marines who say Sgt. Rafael Peralta sacrificed his life to save theirs.
Peralta’s family was notified of the decision Wednesday by Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski, a top Marine Corps commander. Col. David Lapan, a Marine spokesman, said he was unaware of any recent award nomination that was denied in this way.
A Gates-appointed panel unanimously concluded that the report on Peralta’s action did not meet the standard of “no margin of doubt or possibility of error,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. The argument about whether to award Peralta the nation’s highest military honor centers on whether a mortally wounded Marine could have intentionally reached for the grenade after suffering a serious head wound.
For his actions during a Nov. 15, 2004, firefight in Fallujah, Iraq, Peralta will receive the Navy Cross, the service’s second-highest award for valor. The citation said Peralta, 25, covered a live grenade thrown by insurgents.
“I don’t want that medal,” Peralta’s mother, Rosa, said Wednesday. “I won’t accept it. It doesn’t seem fair to me.”
And who was this young man who gave his life for his country and for his fellow soldiers? Who carried out the Commander-in-Chief’s directives?
Peralta first came to the United States from Mexico without legal documentation as a teen and joined the Marines the day he got his green card on April 17, 2000. He later became a naturalized citizen.
For God’s sake, everyone — throw the Republican bums out of office and bring these men and women home!