Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dakota Meyer

                    Dakota Meyer received the Medal of Honor on September 15, 2011, and became the first living Marine to receive the medal since the Vietnam War.  He claims that he is no hero, but his life says he is.

                    Meyer was a corporal in the United States Marines on September 8, 2009.  Just before dawn that day, a patrol made up of Afghan forces and American trainers were making their way up a narrow valley on foot on their way to meet with some village elders. Suddenly the lights in the village went out and the patrol was pinned down by heavy Taliban fire.  Corporal Meyer and Staff Sergeant Juan Rodriguez-Chavez were about a mile away but could hear the ambush over the radio.  "It was as if the whole valley was exploding.  Taliban fighters were unleashing a firestorm from the hills, from the stone houses, even from the local school."  The patrol was soon pinned down.  Men were being wounded and killed, and four Americans were surrounded.

                    Four times Dakota requested permission to go rescue his friends, and four times he was denied permission because of the danger.  Finally he could stand it no longer and told Juan that he was going in to help.  "Juan jumped into a Humvee and took the wheel; Dakota climbed into the turret and manned the gun.  They were defying orders, but they were doing what they thought was right.  So they drove straight into a killing zone, Dakota's upper body and head exposed to a blizzard of fire from Ak-47s and machine guns, from mortars and rocket-propelled grenades."  

                    Dakota and Juan drove into the killing zone - not just once or twice but five times.  Each time they found wounded men Dakota would jump out of Humvee - exposing himself to the fire - to put the wounded men into the Humvee and take them for help.  Dakota was shot in the arm on one of the trips.  On the fifth trip into the village, the fire seemed "to come from every window, every doorway, every alley.  And when they finally got to those trapped Americans, Dakota jumped out.  And he ran toward them.  Drawing all those enemy guns on himself.  Bullets kicking up the dirt all around him.  He kept going until he came upon those four Americans, laying where they fell, together as one team.

                    "Dakota and the others who had joined him knelt down, picked up their comrades and - through all those bullets, all the smoke, all the chaos - carried them out, one by one.  Because, as Dakota says, `That's what you do for a brother.'"  Dakota accepted the Medal of Honor in the name of his brothers.

                    Dakota Meyer, who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, did not stop being a hero nor fighting for his "brothers" when he came home.  Today he has a new mission "to use his fame to draw attention to the alarming unemployment rate among veterans who have served since 9/11."  He doesn't care that much about being a Medal of Honor recipient, "but if I can use that to help veterans get jobs, I will."

                    The statistics about post-9/11 veterans are very sobering: 9.5 percent unemployment (national average 8.2 percent).  The rate for veterans 24 years and younger is 29 percent unemployment (civilian rate is approximately 17 percent).  Neither Meyer nor any of the veterans want charity or feel any sense of entitlement; they simply want jobs.

                    Meyer wants to "make a difference."  His mission is to help the veterans to obtain the proper "tools" in order to compete for jobs successfully.  His mission is being helped along by Toyota and the United States Chamber of Commerce, which has instituted a campaign called Hiring Our Heroes to encourage businesses to hire veterans.  This joint effort will help service members and veterans prepare effective resumes, improve their interview skills, and find jobs as well as encourage businesses to hire veterans.  An added plus of helping veterans to find jobs is national security:  if people know they will be helped when they return from serving their country, they will be more likely to volunteer for the job.   (See Bill Hewitt, "Man on a Mission," Parade Magazine, August 19, 2012, pp. 14-15.)  Dakota Meyer is a modern-day hero.  We should all be very proud of him!


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