Last month, President Obama awarded a young man from Columbia, Kentucky, the Medal of Honor, our nation’s most highest award for valor, making him the third living and the only living Marine since the Vietnam War to receive this recognition. ‘”The highest military decoration awarded by the United States government,” the MOH is bestowed by the President in the name of Congress on members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.” The tale of this Marine’s actions during the Battle of Ganjgal as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kunar province, Afghanistan, for which he was recommended to this Medal, is not only heroic and commendable, but an extraordinary display of true courage, sacrifice, and an example of one of America’s best at his finest hour. Herein lie the details of Sgt. Dakota Meyer’s outstanding performance and bravery on September 08, 2009, then just 21-years old and a member of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7. This is the day he became a great American hero.

Though the negligence of those in command of this operation contributed to the loss of life that day, what stands out above all and tears a light of hope in this tragedy are Sgt. Meyer’s resolve, fearlessness, and strength of character during this event. That one man took it upon himself to save the life of his brothers in the line of fire, in the certainty of death, and against the orders of his leaders, while wounded and without the support of his allied forces is something that awes and inspires. It rattles your conscience and awakens your call to duty. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are–and I am damn proud that this guy is just my age–who cares about your status, or place in the world. When the time calls for you to choose between right and wrong, you can push through anything to do the right thing. You can go through the unbelievable to make it happen. Nothing could stop you. Not even standing alone for what is right. Every one is given a test, and only the few will survive.

Here’s to Sgt. Dakota Meyer, and to the United States Marine Corps.

Here’s to the always faithful.

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