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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

ANONYMOUS HEROES

The main stream media, television, newspapers, and even news web sites and e-zines are neglecting meaningful stories that are critical to American morale as the War On Terror progresses.

All of the media are very quick to report each American casualty, killed or wounded, as well as Iraqi and Afghani civilians killed or wounded by the terrorists. Every bomb that disrupts the rebuilding of Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s infrastructure gets prominent attention. Any misconduct by American military personnel, whether real or imagined, is blared in headlines from coast to coast. Off the wall protesters, making unwarranted charges either against our government or our military, are featured newsmakers. Politicians disparaging our military with spurious charges are assured of a forum that makes the evening news cycle. With all of this, is it any wonder that many Americans are confused or misled about our progress in dealing with those who threaten us?

I have four very simple questions, which all of the media should know, yet I am confident that NONE can answer.

How many Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, or Distinguished Service Crosses have been awarded since operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq? What are the names and actions of those receiving this medal?
How many Unit Citations and Unit Commendations have been awarded since operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq? What units received these, and what were the actions of those receiving this recognition?

Either these awards for valor are presented at secret gatherings in undisclosed locations, or none of our military have performed any deeds of heroism in Afghanistan or Iraq. Or is it possible that the media is only interested in reporting news that is negative, and are not reporting details on commendations for bravery? We know how many Purple Hearts have been awarded, since the media keeps close count of casualties. We know how many terrorists attacks have occurred in both theaters of operation, as the media keeps close count of these on a monthly basis. However, any heroic actions by our troops, and recognized with commendations for valor, are regularly ignored by all of our media. Whether these actions resulted in inflicting enemy casualties, or were actions that saved others from harm, they are not considered newsworthy.

I am disheartened by this lack of recognition for those who daily face death and injury on our behalf. If the heroism of our young men and women were recognized as prominently as the allegations of mistreatment at Gitmo, perhaps the American people would get a more balanced view of our military operations. Since when has it become journalism’s job to influence public opinion by accentuating stories that are detrimental to America, while ignoring anything that might cause pride or recognition in our successes? Do we no longer have any real heroes, or is that designation only applied to sports figures, or actors who mouth uneducated opinions about subjects of which they have no knowledge? Have our news suppliers been so perverted by their political agenda that news is now more propaganda than information? Harsh words, yes, but I do not use them without some justification. If the media cannot answer my four simple questions, then their own ignorance is proof of their deliberate obfuscation of events.

The failure of the media to report on other areas of success is yet another example of the tunnel vision that is now accepted practice by our news providers, but would be too lengthy to discuss in this piece. For example, we should be demanding reports on how many schools have been built in Afghanistan, or how many hospitals have been staffed and supplied by America in Iraq.

All of us share the blame for this situation, by our failure to insist on accurate and complete reporting by the media. By accepting the news as provided, without any oversight or review as to accuracy and balance, we have told the media that we will believe what they tell us, and react as they expect. Until we voice our concerns to the parties charged with providing us news, we will continue to be fed information that favors a single viewpoint. And too often, that viewpoint is not in our nation’s interest.

All societies need heroes. We need examples of how to behave in times of danger, and how to react to stressful situations we may face. We need to see the faces, and learn the details of those who lead by example. But the most heroic of our fellow citizens continue to do their duty in shadow, and we know them not at all.

Tom Glennon

Tom Glennon recently retired as a Manager with an international bank. A Chicago native, he retired at the location of his last assignment, in the Des Moines, Iowa area.

He is an award winning speaker for the Volunteer Oil Industry Communications Effort, an industry advocacy group, and writes essays and opinion pieces for a variety of on-line and print publications.

Tom has served on his County Republican Committee, as well as having served as the County Campaign Chair for Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). His volunteer work has covered a variety of community based efforts, including youth athletic organizations, Junior Achievement, Youth at Risk, and the Boy Scouts.

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