Shameful is the only word I can think of to describe the media’s treatment of Bruce Crandall’s Medal of Honor:
In a less doubtful culture, Maj. Crandall’s magnificent medal would have been on every front page, if only a photograph. It was on no one’s front page Tuesday. The New York Times, the culture’s lodestar, had a photograph on its front page of President Bush addressing governors about an insurance plan. Maj. Crandall’s Medal of Honor was on page 15, in a round-up, three lines from the bottom. Other big-city dailies also ran it in their news summaries; some–the Washington Post, USA Today–ran full accounts inside.
Most schoolchildren once knew the names of the nation’s heroes in war–Ethan Allen, John Paul Jones, Stephen Decatur, the Swamp Fox Francis Marion, Ulysses S. Grant, Clara Barton, Billy Mitchell, Alvin York, Leigh Ann Hester. Lee Ann who? She’s the first woman to win a Silver Star for direct combat with the enemy. Did it in a trench in Iraq. Her story should be in schools, but it won’t be.
All nations celebrate personal icons, and ours now tend to be doers of good. That’s fine. But if we suppress the martial feats of a Bruce Crandall, we distance ourselves further from our military. And in time, we will change. At some risk.
I suppose we should be grateful that Maj. Crandall’s story was worth at least a bit of a dead tree for the NYT.