Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Glenn Beck Honors the military on 8/28 - and does NOT dishonor the Purple Heart

As we move ever closer to the Restoring Honor Rally on 8/28, which is being hosted by Glenn Beck, a lot of liberal groups are moving to discredit him in any way possible. The New Black Panther Party has threatened to be there, possibly in the hopes that people will be too scared to attend. Other more insidious attacks include the continuing “Glenn Beck hates Jesus” arguments (see this article for a great rebuttal) and of course, the “Glenn Beck is dishonoring recipients of the Purple Heart" attack.

Of course, anyone who listens to Glenn on a semi-regular basis knows that Glenn has nothing but respect for our troops. In fact, the Restoring Honor rally is commited to honoring our troops! But Glenn's detractors never seem to care about honor or honesty, as they work to smear Glenn and keep people away from the Lincoln Memorial on 8/28.

Any fan of Glenn knows that he is not dishonoring Purple Heart recipients, but rather reaching back into history in order to honor the non-military, non-wounded person. He is going back to the "Badge of Military Merit" established by George Washington (check out the history of the Purple Heart), which honored soldiers who displayed great honor and merit, regardless of whether or not they were wounded. After Washington created it, it fell out of use until it was revived as the Purple Heart and given only to those wounded in battle. He's not trying to replace the Purple Heart, but rather add another award (that is actually truer to Washington's original vision) to honor the non-military folk who act with great honor.

Recently at the American Revival, I had a chance to email in a question to Glenn after he began discussing the Badge of Merit. What follows is first a transcript of the discussion of the Badge of Merit by David Barton, who is the author of numerous books on the founding fathers and an expert on George Washington. Glenn was then read my question and answered it pretty fully. I’ve edited out the pauses and some of the repetitions, when it appeared he was gathering his thoughts and not repeating for emphasis.

David Barton – {answering a question on the Badge of Merit, which Glenn is wearing as an insignia on his shirt, presumably so that people can see it}.

“This is actually what George Washington gave. This is the Badge of Merit. There are three of them still known to exist today. Washington was different from so many others in that he didn’t {only?} want the generals to get recognition; he wanted the common people who did remarkable things to get recognition. And he would look out among the troops, and he saw things that were courage – and by the way, if you read his diaries from Valley Forge it’ll make you cry to see what he saw among his troops.

As he saw that, he wanted to honor those guys nobody had honored in that era by the British troops. If you’re a commoner, you’re a peon. You’re down low. Washington wanted to exalt the common man and exalt particularly virtues of honor and courage and faith and integrity, and when he saw it, the Commander in Chief gave you that badge right there. It was on a little bracelet you got to wear on your arm. There’s three of them still known to exist today.

They’ve taken that {he gestures to the badge} and turned it into the Purple Heart, because it was a purple heart. Now {i.e. today} it means you’ve been wounded in battle. But Washington’s original Badge of Merit was the purple heart to honor and recognize great traits he saw among common average ordinary soldiers.”

Glenn: “We are assembling people on 8/28 in Washington DC that have earned this – that have truly earned this. And we are bring this back for the common people. On 8/28 three people are going to receive it. “

My question (which was emailed in earlier in the event, and coincided very nicely with this discussion): A lot of people are moving against 8-28 by saying that you are dishonoring the recipients of The Purple Heart. I know that you are simply trying to restore the original intent of the Badge of Military Merit, but where do you see the place of the Purple Heart going forward?

Glenn’s answer:

“Where the purple heart already is. I’m saying that we need to honor merit inside, not just for the troops. We know if you look at all the things that are happening, if you look at the things that we trust, and the things that we hold up in high esteem now, the troops are number one. In fact they’re the only things that we look at now and say ‘Those are honorable people.’

You’re gonna meet…I’m gonna showcase some people – Marcus Lutrell will be there – and I’m gonna showcase some other people. I met a guy this week – we had him on the radio – his hands were blown off. His hands had been blown off. This guy…he still wants to serve. They’re remarkable, remarkable people. Well we can’t only have the people in our military being the only honorable remarkable people. You need to do that. I need to do that. We all need to do that, and all I’m saying with this {he gestures to the Badge of Merit insignia on his shirt} for all the rest of us ‘You know what? Are you willing to lose your hands? Are you willing to lose your house for it? Are you willing to lose sleep? Are you willing to have people just bash you in the head, over and over and over again?’

You know it is an insult, to say at this point in our history that we can compare ourselves to those who stood with Martin Luther King. We haven’t had a dog sicced on us. We haven’t had fire-hoses opened on us. We haven’t had a baton to the head yet. We may. But if that happens the only way we will stand is if we understand honor and merit.”

This morning I happened to listen to that radio interview with the Marine who lost his hands (podcast - I'm days behind on my Glenn listening!):

GLENN: "There was never a time, never a time that you thought, 'I don't have hands. What am I going to do?' I mean, was there a time where you were quite honestly pissed off or, why me?"

SGT. WRIGHT: "No, I don't think so. I don't think I let myself get complacent or — you know, we don't really have an attitude, we don't foster the attitude of 'I can't' or 'I quit.' And when you have an obstacle in front of you, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and focus on what you can."

GLENN: "America, let me tell you something. This is exactly, exactly why we're doing 8/28. Here's a guy with incredible honor. Here's a guy who has sacrificed more than I will ever sacrifice. Here is a guy who has an American attitude of, "What? We just do it." This is why our country is struggling right now. Because there's not enough of us that are just like, 'Do the damn job,' and it's an honor to do the job. I am deeply humbled by not only you but all of the brothers that you serve with. It is remarkable what you guys accomplish, and we can never thank you enough, although I do believe you have far too many medals. It's a showoff kind of thing."

And yes, Glenn was joking about the medals – read the whole thing!

Now, my own father, who is a Vietnam vet, doesn't necessarily see the need to do the Badge of Merit in the military, since there are other ways of recognizing honor in our troops who are not wounded. But it seems pretty clear that Glenn is trying to find a way to honor those who are not necessarily soldiers.

I'm going to 8/28 in DC with my husband, so I'll just have to see!