Imagine this, if you can: you’re a Marine, stationed at a check point at the entrance of a Forward Operating Base in Ramadi, Iraq. Your mission is to protect the base and check every incoming vehicle and personnel.
It’s hot, it’s boring, and with each incoming person and truck you are expected to be alert, professional and vigilant, because death could be lurking behind innocent looking eyes. There are 31 American Marines and 23 Iraqi police behind you, depending on you to do your job.
Then, one truck ignores the signs and shouts, the flares and warning shots to slow down and stop. The Iraqi police flee the scene after detecting extreme danger. But you, instead of fleeing, bear down on your weapon and fire it cyclically, as you were trained to do, aiming and striking center of mass on the incoming threat. The vehicle finally stops, mere feet from your position. Then, it hits: the concussion blast from a 2,000 pound vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
For his actions on April 22, 2008 day, 19-year-old Marine Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter, and his battle buddy, Cpl. Jonathan Yale, received the Navy Cross, among other posthumous awards.
The highest ranking officials have mentioned him in speeches, including this quote from President Barrack Obama on Jan. 27, 2009 at Camp Lejeune, N.C.:
Semper Fidelis: it means always being faithful, to the Corps, and to the country and to the memory of fallen comrades like Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter.
And this from Gen. James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, in his 234th Marine Corps birthday video message, holding Haerter and Yale up as ideal examples of “carrying on a legacy of valor.”
There is a petition now, initiated by loved ones of Jordan to put in motion a process for him and Jonathan to receive the recognition they truly deserve: a Medal of Honor. Since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, only 12 service members have received the Medal of Honor, seven of which were posthumously awarded.
Haerter’s mother, JoAnn Lyles said in a recent interview regarding the White House petition, that she would “certainly support an appropriate review for a higher award.” But also said, “I don’t want to push for it if it’s not warranted.”
How could sacrificing one’s life for 50 other human beings not be worthy of the Medal of Honor, the highest tangible recognition of valor America has to offer?
There is probably no honor that could adequately memorialize or quantify the sacrifices made by Haerter and Yale that hot April day in 2008, but the Medal of Honor would help preserve their memory and their actions to the highest possible degree. This would give an added level of comfort to their families, loved ones and comrades, and preserve for future generations of Americans the idea that such sacrifices will not be forgotten and will never be marginalized.
If you agree then maybe we could all make a difference by signing the White House petition via Change.org. The petition does not authorize the award for the men; it would initiate a process whereby the President could decide to ask for a review for the award.
It seems the least we can do to honor the last full measure of these young men’s lives, which they gave willingly for each of us, as well as for 50 of their colleagues that day.
It’s easy to sit back and simply watch the world go by and tsk-tsk this or that and say, “someone else can do something for these young men,” but why would a red-blooded American patriot let someone else take on a responsibility we all have, individually to do whatever we can for those who did more for us than we could ever do for them?
Sign. You won’t regret it, and maybe down the road someday, if the medal is awarded, you could be one of those who can stand tall and say you had a small but significant part in it.