On this date in 1862, President Lincoln signed into law the legislation that created what we know today as the Medal of Honor. The photo accompanying this post is of the cover of the current edition of Semper Fi, a magazine Hammock provides publishing management services for the association, the Marine Corps League. The Marine on the cover is Dakota Meyer, a native of Kentucky who received the Medal of Honor earlier this year. It is impossible to convey the level of bravery Meyer exhibited in the actions that led to his being awarded the Medal. However, those who receive this award, always seem surprised that they received it. Anyone would do it, they all seem to say. Humility is an attribute of a recipient, it appears. Respect and honor for those who died beside them are always what they first talk about whenever asked about the Medal.
As one would think for an honor so special, a large percentage of the recipients die in the act of heroism for which they receive this rare award. Meyer is the first living Marine to receive the honor in 38 years.
One thing I learned from our team who works on Semper Fi is that a statement Dakota Meyer said about the actions that led to his award have entered into a very small and hallowed collection of iconic statements that all Marines will know, forever more:
“I didn’t think I was going to die. I knew I was.”
I am awed by those who display such willingness to sacrifice all in service to their country and to their brothers beside them. Greater love hath no man.
Bonus: This morning, NPR ran a story about a Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima. I’ve embedded it below.