BY SIERRA-LYN RODRIGUES – A soldier sees a grenade, and without thinking twice he throws himself over it and loses his life to save others around him. A man, while under heavy fire, risks his life and loses it in an attempt to rescue his companion, a fellow soldier. These are just two examples of the many ways soldiers have earned the Medal of Honor. These men are Medal of Honor recipients, but more importantly, they are heroes.
The most important characteristic of a Medal of Honor recipient would be heroism. Heroism can be defined as “having the qualities of a hero” (Merriam-Webster). A hero is someone who is distinguished for their courageous or noble qualities.
Heroes are risk- takers, they are people who risk loss in order to protect one another and serve their country. They do things that no normal person would. Theodore Roosevelt said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Not many of us could say that if there were a grenade about to blow, we would lay over it, losing our lives for the people around us. Medal of Honor recipients are selfless, enlisting in the army is already a selfless act, but to go into combat, put your life on the line for your country, and lose it protecting others is awe-inspiring. These men are determined, a lot of the medals given out were awarded posthumously.
Most of these men fought and kept fighting till their death. “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.” were the words of General Douglas MacArthur. Though there are many fallen soldiers that have not been recognized, the men who have been awarded the Medal of Honor hold their award for all those who have passed.
As it was said to Hershel “Woody” Williams, by Commandant Alexander Vandegrift, about his Medal of Honor, “That medal does not belong to you. It belongs to all the Marines who did not come home.”
Lastly, a hero is someone you admire. After reading the stories of almost all of the Medal of Honor recipients I would say that these men are heroes, and it would be an honor to meet one of them.
I look up to them and I strive to be my best, but I don’t think that could never compare to the things they have done, and it makes me stop and think, America is blessed to have soldiers that serve beyond the call of duty.
Sierra-lyn Rodrigues is a high school student on Maui at Kaahumanu Hou Christian School. She won first place in the 2012 Small Business Hawaii Education Foundation’s student essay contest on the Medal of Honor winners.