Thursday, November 18, 2010


On Tuesday, November 16th, Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta became the first living person since the Vietnam War to receive the United State's highest military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor. He was honored for saving members of his squad during the War in Afghanistan in October of 2007.  As an American, I was proud to see him receive such an award.  As an Iowan, it took the feeling one step deeper in appreciation for what he did that day.  His actions were heroic.

I'll have to admit right up front I don't know Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.  I hope to meet him someday because I have a ton of questions I'd like to ask him.  You probably would too.  But here is where we might differ.  Perhaps you might ask those famous 4 W's and H.  Who, When, Where, Why and How.  I'm sure there are some great questions you could ask. On the other hand,  I'm more intrigued by "Now Where?"

In the days leading up to his honor there were numerous sound bytes and newspaper articles detailing Salvatore Giunta's life.  There was one from his mother, Rosemary, that I found most insightful.  Mrs. Giunta explained that when Sal decided to join the military he told her that he wanted to make a difference.  He had this overwhelming feeling to do something for his country and he wanted to do it, right.  Let me say that one more time, he wanted to do it  R....I....G....H....T

Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta

Giunta himself is uneasy with all the accolades being thrown his way. "I'm not at peace with that at all," Giunta said. "In this job, I am only mediocre. I’m average....And coming and talking about it and people wanting to shake my hand because of it, it hurts me, because it's not what I want. And to be with so many people doing so much stuff and then to be singled out—and put forward. I mean, everyone did something."

The definition of hero has several interpretations.  The meaning that led to his being recognized with the Medal of Honor most likely falls in the area of  "a person, who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal".  If you look at that definition it's not hard to understand where Giunta's conflct bubbles to the surface.  He doesn't feel that he has heroic qualities....he says he is "mediocre...I'm average".  He did though perform a heroic act.  No doubt.  He did it right. 

I'm reminded of the HBO miniseries, "The Pacific" and a certain Sgt. John Basilone who received  the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. He was the only enlisted Marine in World War II to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.  After receiving the Medal of Honor Sgt. Basilone stayed stateside and promoted war bonds for his country.  But that wasn't enough, it wasn't fulfilling, even for a Hero.  What Sgt. Basilone found most rewarding was being with a company of men working toward a goal.  After several requests, Sgt. Basilone was granted a return to action.  Seven months later while serving as a machine gun section leader with Charlie Company, Sgt. Basilone was killed in action at Iwo Jima.     

I've been trying for several days now to understand Staff Sgt. Giunta and Sgt. Basilone and what makes them unique.  Maybe a word that really describes them best.  Actually, I'm going to borrow the "word" from a friend of mine who made me see it in a different light and enabled me to see its significance.  The word is.....dauntless.

To be dauntless is to be incapable of being intimidated or discouraged, fearless.  DAUNTLESS.  Dauntless to serve, dauntless in country and dauntless in life.  So, now where Staff Sgt. Giunta?  Once the wild ride ebbs and your life returns to some sort of normalcy, then,  now where?  I have no problem visualizing you taking on the next task put in front of you and doing it right.  It's that type of "right" that we should all strive to achieve in our lives.  I wish you the best, Staff Sgt. Giunta.  Continue to be DAUNTLESS in all that you do.  Because that's what you are to me.    



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