[March 25, 2021] Jim Livingston is a U.S. Marine combat veteran. During the Vietnam War, he was awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life. Why do we honor those who go beyond the call of duty when in combat against enemies of the United States? Why do we hold Jim Livingston and others like him in such high esteem give our respect?
Those who are willing to stand and pledge their lives to their nation demonstrate a moral act, one that stands above expected behavior. To protect one’s nation from enemies has been an act is of such high value because it represents the survival of our nation, community, and family. There is no higher calling than to stand up for those who are incapable of defending themselves. We rightly look upon those who earned the medal with a sense of awe.
The Medal of Honor (MOH) is the United States military’s highest and most prestigious military decoration. We hold this medal in such reverence that laws are written to prevent the unscrupulous from benefiting by falsely wearing the medal.
Yes, you can purchase the MOH on the Internet and in some military surplus stores. Anyone can pin it on their shirt, but those who do so, and have not earned it in combat, are stealing the valor from true veterans.
Our legal system allows this, and rightly so. Sometimes freedom can be a double-edged sword. If someone wants to impersonate a highly decorated veteran, then that is what freedom is about. Our laws allow unprincipled and deceitful people the right to speak and do as they wish. Let us not overlook that those who rightfully earned the Medal of Honor with their blood have also earned the right for others to misrepresent themselves.
The Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the U.S. Armed Forces. The President typically presents the medal in person. And, because of the reverent symbolic value of the MOH and its long history, there is considerable storytelling behind it. Wikipedia and others have a good summary.
I spoke with USMC James “Jim” Livingston a few days ago. He is now living in South Carolina and continues to be an active member of his community and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. He made my day that day.
Today is Medal of Honor Day. I highly recommend all readers go to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society webpage under Blog Posts to ‘hear’ from those who earned the medal. You will find them all to be very humble and their stories to be fascinating.