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What Lawmakers Should Read at Christmas: Book Review of “Living With Honor”

by John on 12/25/2012


Our lawmakers often praise our men and women in the military.  And they should.  This one-percent of the population has fought our two most recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – at a horrible price to themselves physically and mentally.

Yet our so-called leaders too often only give these American heroes lip service.  The praise is usually used to boost defense spending while denying or reducing benefits to these returning vets and their families who have sacrificed as well.

So I suggest our lawmakers should read Living With Honor by Sal Giunta.  Giunta is a Medal of Honor recipient.  But Giunta’s story indirectly has lessons to resolve the budget and fiscal crisis and the aftermath of Newtown.

Think about this:

  • Our fighting forces don’t differentiate who is in their team by race or religion.  They work together and watch each other’s backs.  Giunta describes some of the wackiest and quirkiest guys who have nothing in common and become a team.  I am guessing Giunta would think the divisions created by Republicans versus Democrats are detriments to the struggle of making America a better place.
  • Giving your own life for your fellow American is not even questioned.  You do it because the other guy would do it for you.  Imagine sacrificing your political career for the common good of the country.  That would never happen in our political elite today.  Instead, they honor donors.
  • Even when a fellow American has fallen, they don’t let his body fall into enemy hands.  They go and get him.  They give him a proper burial.  They believe that no one is left behind.  I don’t hear that from our so-called leaders.
  • When Giunta receives the Medal of Honor, he doesn’t think he deserves it.  He remembers his buddies who died that day while he was trying to save one of them.  And he talks about how he wouldn’t have received the medal if it weren’t for the other members of his team who also fought fearlessly to get one of their own back.

Do you hear any of that from our leaders today?  I don’t.

Instead on the campaign trail, we heard the silly back and forth about whether business owners “built it themselves.”  Republicans are under the belief that government only gets in the way of their success when in reality business needs government and the little guy to make his or her business happen.  The President was wrong to chastise those business owners who are the risk-takers that make innovation and jobs happen.

Giunta doesn’t talk about that.  But his story made me realize how our campaigns make us look at issues in weird ways.

I love this book.  You can relate to Sal Giunta.  Giunta is just a regular guy like most of us growing up in America.  He is a good kid who never gets into trouble.  But he is restless, at odds with his parents, and has a hard time finding direction in his life.  The military provides him with a compass.

But Giunta gives us some warnings too.  He admits to being angry, almost uncontrollable anger at strangers who might cross him, on his return from battle.  He also shares the story of a buddy who celebrates his Medal of Honor at the White House, but is killed by police in a high speed chase only two months later.  Giunta makes us understand there are some ticking time-bombs within our returning troops that need attention.

Still, Giunta has great praise for the military and the men and women who serve.

So besides our elected officials, I think all Americans should read this.

  1. You need to know the sacrifice these guys and gals take on in our names.  It should make each of us think about what we can do to sacrifice for our country. 
  2. Anyone thinking about joining the military needs to read this too. 
  3. And every parent who has a child contemplating military service should make this a must-read.  It won’t necessarily dissuade you, but you won’t enter blindly. 
  4. And anyone who is thinking of hiring a vet should read this for insight into what they have done and what they can do.  In other words, not all these guys want to be just police officers.
  5. You should also read this to know how to talk to a returning vet.  Beware of saying, “Thank you.”  For many of these guys and gals, they were just doing their jobs.  For others, they don’t want to talk about it; some of it is too brutal to re-live. 

Whatever the reason you read this, you will want to have a beer with Sal Giunta.

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