BY AMANDA HUTCHINSON – The call of duty to ones country is a far cry from the call of duty to ones heart. It is a matter of selflessness and passion that drives individuals towards acts which many of us can not begin to comprehend. In total, 3,459 soldiers have been awarded the Medal of Honor for acts of valor in which they placed others lives above their own. It is in the stories of these men and women that we see love at its finest, and it is after these sons, brothers, husbands, cousins, that we should model our own lives. Every person living in freedom owes it to these, and countless other soldiers who have risked their lived defending it. It is in honor of these individuals that we should be witness to the fact that we live because others have sacrificed themselves for us, and for our noble country.
It was once said that courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something is more important than fear. Metal of Honor recipients are so dignified because of their decision that the well being of others was worth more than their own life. It is their ability to emerge from a time of discord with heroism surpassing all expectation, which makes these individuals so worthy of their design. They possess a rare instinct that kicks in amid chaos, when fast action is needed, an intuitive passion to serve the greater good which pushes them to do anything it takes to protect what they hold dear, and even to overcome the most basic human instinct of survival. Rather these instincts were learned or innate, they are something that every human being would do well to learn. These recipients teach by example that bravery is not blindly overlooking danger, but knowingly facing it and charging it head on. It is from them that many of their fellow soldiers find proof that there is love to be found even in times of war. It is from them that we find the inspiration to take courage in moments when parts of our own lives are falling apart.
If a grenade landed near you, would you smother it with your own body to save those around you? If you were wounded, would you refuse medical care in order to pursue a mission that is nearly hopeless? If your comrades were trying to carry you to safety, would you demand that they leave you behind so as to not risk their lives for the sake of yours? Most of us will never answer these questions, because we are blessed enough never to have to faced them. However, there are many who have, and some who have even answered yes. Yes that they will lay down their life for the chance to save another. Yes that their duty will extend beyond their obligation. Yes that their will to save will dilute their will to survive, and their loyalty will know no boundaries. It is their “yes” to love, to freedom, and to all of the above, that makes those who hold a Medal of Honor so unique.
Amanda Hutchinson is a senior at Kalani High School and a camp leader for Winners Camp and Hawaii Leadership Academy. She won second place in the Small Business Hawaii Education Foundation’s student essay contest on the Medal of Honor winners.