These four men exemplify a mindset that is both incomprehensible and unimaginable to all who have not been in such a situation. When faced with a life or death situation, with an escape route both simple and available, every one of them chose death, against every instinct of self-preservation. And, in doing so, they allowed the men with them, marked for death, to keep their lives.To borrow a phrase from the movie Gladiator, about another great nation whose freedom rested on its soldiers in far flung wars:
There truly can be no greater love, no more heroic acts, than such as these. The men whose lives were saved by the direct intervention of Mike Monsoor, Jason Dunham, Ross McGinnis, Jason Cunningham, and others will carry the burden of gratitude with them to the grave, and beyond.
The mindset that compels a man to put himself into harm’s way for the purpose of saving another is impossible to express; however, it is a defining characteristic of the true warrior who has faced combat and who has experienced the reality of having his life entirely in the hands of the men next to him and having each of theirs in his.
As put by Dr. Joseph Blake, a sociologist who has researched the act of soldiers throwing themselves on grenades and other acts of sacrifice in the line of fire, “A combat situation has not a whole lot to do with patriotism or the folks back home....They are fighting for their buddies. They don’t want to let their buddies down.”
Yet these heroes, and all of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have died in combat, have done so also, if indirectly, for the sake of all Americans. To these men and women, every American owes eternal gratitude and a commitment never to take for granted those things that we, due to their sacrifices, can continue to enjoy — things that they, due to those same sacrifices, will never again be able to.
As Memorial Day nears, take a moment to thank a friend, family member, or even a total stranger who has served — or is serving — this country. For although they will never seek the praise and thanks of their fellow man, all will appreciate the expression of gratitude. It is our solemn duty to honor those who have kept us safe and free for the past 230-plus years. America has stood strong all this time largely because of men like these. And it is because of men like them that it shall remain so.
The sacrifices of these true warriors, like those of the countless others whose stories have not yet been told to a public, did not make them heroes. It simply demonstrated what heroes they were all along.
They were soldiers of freedom; honor them.
All who fight for us are soldiers of freedom; honor them all.