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Fire your headline writer

November 17, 2010

Winning the Medal of Honor has “perks.” Just ask the headline writers over at CNN. In an article written yesterday, the day Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan, the first living recipient since Vietnam, CNN highlighted the “benefits” Giunta will receive as one of the few living Medal of Honor recipients.

It’s not the article itself that bothers me so much (Military.com ran something similar, so I’m also not just picking on CNN), but the headline specifically that annoys me, and I’m sure would annoy Giunta. He’s gone out of his way to highlight how his service is similar to anyone else’s, even going so far as to call himself “average” and “mediocre.” This is primarily an example of the humility and selfless sacrifice of our Soldiers. But article’s like CNN’s don’t do Giunta or any of our Soldier-heroes any service. They take no glory in their 15 seconds of fame and I’m sure little satisfaction in a pension or extra retirement savings.

I appreciate a desire to spin out a story on the Medal of Honor to cover as many angles as possible. I want our Soldier’s heroism covered in all its dimensions, and I’ll even take some of the more sensationalist ones. But I do find it in poor taste to highlight Medal of Honor “perks” on what should be a day highlighting Giunta’s service. Play the other angles tomorrow, but give us one day to remember the Medal of Honor as an award of valor and heroism, not special military privilege.

Hopefully many in the American public took the time to view interviews with Giunta and his fellow Soldiers. Straight from the horse’s mouth is the best way to hear most of our Soldier’s stories, this one no different.

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