Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Second Thoughts on the Medal of Honor

That piece where I thought I saw a "shift" in the Medal of Honor: Joel suspects I have my history wrong.  Grant that the "new" awards seem to be for saving and  not killing, still am I sure that this new practice is "new?"  Maybe we've done it this way all along?

He's got me there.  Actually, I don't know much of anything specific about who gets/got the Medal.  Indeed, about all I know is what I learned from the Audie Murphy movie (though apparently Audie does counts as a killer: "he personally killed or wounded about 50," according to the official citation).  And the Wiki makes a telling point: apparently our conception of the model has shifted over time and in particular we used to award it for stuff seemingly far less important than what it goes for today.    Example: the first Medals went to the six Union soldiers who kidnapped "The General," the Confederate locomotive (no Medal for Buster Keaton, though).

I still suspect that a careful survey would show a trend away from bellicosity over time, but that is a job for a dissertation and I haven't done it (I'll blog it when I hear of one, though).  So,  advantage, Joel. I suspect there is no disagreement on the other proposition, though: war is about winning,  not killing, and to glamorize killing is wretchedly to miss the point.

No comments: