By Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, Member of Congress
(High Desert)– This week I was invited to the White House to attend a very special award presentation. I was able to witness Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Guinta as he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroic actions above and beyond the call of duty. Guinta served as a rifle team leader in Battle Company, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment in 2008 in Afghanistan.
Guinta is the first living Medal of Honor recipient from the War on Terror, while three other American servicemen were honored with Medal of Honor for valor in Afghanistan. Those brave men are Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, Army Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti, and Army Staff Sergeant Robert James Miller, and all were awarded the Medal posthumously.
Each of these great men fought and sacrificed for the United States of America. They served selflessly and heroically. Their stories of courage and sacrifice in the service of freedom and liberty have yet to be fully chronicled, but I’m certain history will rank their service as some of the greatest in history.
But their story is not complete. Their service in Iraq and Afghanistan is only the first chapter. The civil affairs officer who served in northern Iraq, the logistician who operated out of Balad Air Base, or the Provincial Reconstruction Team member who is bringing stability to eastern Afghanistan will return home and potentially serve as leaders of our country.
America’s armed services are brimming with future leaders. Some may govern and perhaps someday serve in Congress, while others will serve as entrepreneurs to revive and rebuild the country as business leaders. Ultimately, I believe our nation will look to them, just as it did to the veterans of another war over 60 years ago, and they will deliver.
As we enter the 112th Congress, I am inspired by Staff Sergeant Guinta and the other young men and women who have volunteered to serve their country. America was founded on the great tradition of country before self, and while America’s next chapter is not yet chronicled, each day another page is written. And because of men such as Staff Sergeant Guinta, our country will prosper and its citizenry will remain filled with pride and liberating freedom.