Friday, September 16, 2011

The Medal of Honor - Marine Dakota Meyer Receives the Highest Honor

On the front page of the Friday The Star-Ledge, only a week passed from the 10th anniversay or September 11, Marine Dakota Meyer accepts the Medal of Honor.  As the 23-year-old Marine veteran was dressed with medals weighing on his chest and praise from his Commander in Chief, friends, family and thankful Americans, Meyer considers his accomplishments a failure.  On the morning of September 8, 2009 Dakota Meyer recovered the bodies of four fellow Marines, but believes he could have returned home with his comrades alive and well.  The first Marine to receive recognition in close to 4 decades, Meyer was humbled by the honor.  Rather than soaking in the spotlight of attention, Marine Dakota Meyer wanted to honor and remember the friends he lost that day.

The Kentucky native now works for his cousin's construction company, and - ever-loyal to his tasks - asked President Barack Obama to call back later during his lunch break as he was on the job at the time he received the call.  At Meyer's request, the Marine met with President Obama for a beer earlier.

On September 8, 2009 Dakota Meyer (a 21-years-old corporal at the time) was waiting for orders in northeastern Afghanistan.  Told to stay put at least 4 times by outranking officers, Meyer chose to charge through enemy fire to rescue fellow Marines, American soldiers and Afghan soldiers who were ambushed by insurgents.  After firing a gun truck's turret machine gun, Meyer killed at least 8 insurgents and carried his wounded comrades to safety.  National security correspondents local to the event say Meyer saved the lives of 13 American Marines and soldiers and 23 Afghan soldiers.

At the award ceremony, President Obama called Dakota Meyer "the best of a generation that has served with distinction through a decade of war."  Meyer is the first living recipient and the first Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.  7 have been awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remembering Lost Heroes - A Decade After 9/11

Mayor Michael Bloomberg lost
three employees in the attacks.
Learn more in Bloomberg's Profile
On September 11, 2001 American experienced an attack that most people would not have been able to foresee.  Nearly 3,000 lives were lost and as a country America instantly bonded together to heal sorrows and to thank heroes who risked their lives to save others.

Ten years after that unforgettable day, a State Police honor guard stood at the ready during a memorial service at the R.J. Hughes Justice Complex.  In remembrance of the lives lost a decade ago, Evelyn Harrity sung The National Anthem as Dean of Rutgers Law School, Jon J. Farmer Jr. and Public Defender, Charles B. Mckenna stood with Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and N.J. Director of Homeland Security and Preparedness, Paula T. Dow, with their hands over their hearts.

Throughout New Jersey and across America, commemorations continue to heal still-deep wounds as U.S. citizens reflect on the heroism of first responders, firefighters and everyday citizens who became leaders.  Among the most meaningful memorials, The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation opened to the public, issuing nearly 7,000 tickets to mourners and patriots.  The accompanying website, 911 memorial, gives families and friends a way to plan a visit to the WTC Foundation and see a virtual tour from birds-eye views of the memorial or read unforgettable 9/11 stories.  Donations to the 911 memorial are accepted year-round and a name locator will help families and friends navigate the memorial to find a victim's name and learn more about how the names are arranged.

See photos from international 9/11 memorials
For at least one day, every American puts aside his or her partisanship and reflects for a moment.  We remember, pray and show our patriotism.  September 11 transformed America's national identity, and we are thankful for the international 9/11 memorials that unite us as citizens of the globe.  Many of us may feel a certain missing piece in our lives still.  We will never forget where we were when we heard the news, but most importantly we will never forget the leaders, heroes, friends and family members who were brave for our nation.