African, air force, American, American Congress, Combatants, Death, God grace, honor, Marine, Marines, Medal of Honor, military, Navy, pilot, President of the United States of America, Special Forces, War, Warriors, Washington DC, women
The president stood, flanked by high ranking military officers on the raised deck. A little to one side stood a young Marine, who held the Medal of Honor with the two loose ends of a blue ribband. It was a warm day in Washington DC, there might have been, at the very least, two hundred people crowded into the airy flag bedecked room.
An orderly walked on to the deck and signaled the occupants of the room to silence.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States of America!” He stated.
The president, standing behind a bombardment of microphones, greeted the room and proceeded to explain the purpose of this special gathering. He went on to describe the actions that had caused this young Air-force Officer to be standing before the sea of faces on this day. Finally he turned to the Officer, who marched stiffly forward, stopped in front of the President and saluted him.
Everywhere there were representatives of many differing military personnel. The Special Forces, Marines, Navy and Air-force.
Standing alongside the President, his mouth dry, in a state of uncontrollable shaking, he waited.
The President took his hand and shook it warmly, looking him straight in the eye.
“ People of America I present to you Colonel James De Jong, recently promoted. For his accomplishments and bravery in the field of military duty, he will receive the Medal of Honor.” Colonel De Jong we, the American Congress, are proud to acknowledge the accomplishments of our sons and today this is what we mean to do. We give you thanks and commend your bravery in the line of your duty to this country.” The President turned to the Marine opposite to James, took the blue ribband medal and standing behind James, placed it around his neck securing the clasp. James then turned to face the President and took his extended hand.
James stood very still and spoke into the barrage of microphones,
“Mr. President, from the depths of my heart I thank you for accepting me as a son of this great country. Although I am African born, you adopted me as a fellow American. You afforded me the privilege of training to be a pilot and fly in the defense of my country.
Sir, you and the members of your congress have conferred on me a great honor, I believe, the highest given to an American serviceman. My deepest appreciations to each of you.
It’s incumbent on me to thank God for His grace that I can stand before you all, in this room, not visited by death and unscathed by injury, which many of my fellow warriors, sadly, did not escape.
My earnest gratitude to my senior officers, who both encouraged and guided my fellow combatants and I, through the horrors of war and unfailingly, stood behind us in all situations.
Honor was bestowed upon me for actions I took in the line of my duty, but I do not accept credit alone for these actions. As pilots, flying some the most sophisticated military aircraft in the world, we were supported by teams of others who not only kept us flying, but gave us a full head start over our antagonists in the sky and on the ground. To those men and women I share the honor awarded to me today.
I give thanks to my Mother and Father, who gave me over, willingly, to join the many in defense of our country. Without your upbringing and in particular your insistence that integrity and commitment must be the very cornerstone of my character, I would not be standing here today.
Finally, and by no means the least of my gratitude, I thank you, the people of the greatest country in the world. I am very proud to be an American and thank you for adopting me as one of your sons.”
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