Medal of Honor Ceremony, White House, September 15, 2011
Dakota, thanks for taking my call . . .
‘As the citation was read, Sgt. Meyer continued to stare straight ahead, his stillness repelling the adulation he still does not think he deserves. Of course, we know a very different truth.’ -NATASHA ROSENSTOCK (NADEL)
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By Natasha Rosenstock
(c) Natasha Rosenstock, exclusively to ColumbiaMagazine.com
WASHINGTON, DC – No government waste at this ceremony! The audience, filled with black dress uniforms, seemingly bereft of room for one more pin or medal, hung on each word, moment and movement as President Barack Obama told the story of Dakota Meyer’s heroic actions.
For his part, Sgt. Meyer stood stoically, at attention the entire ceremony, only looking at the President when he recognized his comrades in the audience and, per Sgt. Meyer’s request, asked the audience to recognize them. In fact, Sgt. Meyer insisted he was only accepting the honor on behalf of his fallen comrades, whom the President named; He also pointed out that their families were only able to bury them at home, with dignity, due to Sgt. Meyer’s bravery.
Before launching into the emotional and valiant details of the 6 hour gun battle for which Sgt Meyer was being awarded the Medal of Honor, the President said, “Dakota, thanks for taking my call.” The President called to tell him about the medal while he was working his civilian job on a construction site. Sgt. Meyer said he couldn’t talk. “If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.” According to the President, he called back during Dakota’s lunch hour, told him the news and then Dakota got back to work.
The President pointed out that Sgt. Meyer is one of the youngest Medal of Honor recipients at age 23. In fact, his “extraordinary actions” were performed when he was just 21 years old.
As those in Adair County already know, Sgt. Meyer is a very down-to-earth guy. The President made sure to tell the audience that not only was he down-to-earth, he asked him to have a beer. In the President’s very non-Kentucky way, he said, “We were able to execute that yesterday.”
As President Obama began the story of Sgt. Meyer’s rescuing Afghan and US soldiers from a Taliban ambush, Sgt. Meyer’s eyes immediately filled with tears.
From across the room, I could see his painful memories rolling like a movie on repeat inside his electric blue eyes.
“I didn’t think I was going to die. I knew I was,” the President quoted Sgt Meyer as saying.
I heard the network news cameraman behind me sniffle.
“Because of your humble example, our kids, especially back in Columbia, KY and in small towns across America, they’ll know that no matter who you are or where you come from you can do great things as a citizen and as a member of the American family,” said President Obama.
As the citation was read, Sgt. Meyer continued to stare straight ahead, his stillness repelling the adulation he still does not think he deserves.
Of course, we know a very different truth. -Natasha Rosenstock (Nadel)