Awards and Participation trophies….

Today has been an okay day. I fell asleep a little after 0500 this morning. My body is feeling every bit of 47, sleeping in the recliner is a no-go from now on. My thoughts have been muddled due to sleep deprivation. However, thanks to Facebook, I have come to a semi-alert state of mental acuity. While perusing my timeline, I came upon a meme which pushed me to think about my first deployment.

On a cloudless, hot day in Texas, the entirety of the First Squadron, Seventh United States Cavalry is called to attention. The resounding thud of boots being brought together make one sound as 200+ men execute the maneuver flawlessly.

“Men, we are here today to give honor to you, and our fallen comrades who perished on the field of battle.”

Side by side, from shortest to tallest, in alphabetical order, names are called, and medals are awarded. As the announcer drew closer to my best friend and I, my thoughts wandered to what our medal would be. In Iraq, we junior enlisted would often joke about the specifications needed to get a medal over the usual Army Achievement Medal.

“Well see troop, first you would need to be the sole survivor of your convoy. Then you would need to rescue an entire village by yourself. None of the villagers would be able to walk, so you would need to fashion a skid to pull them back to the FOB with a minimum of five injuries to your person. These actions just might qualify you for an Army Commendation Medal.”

Of course, this is pure fantasy. The pre-requisites depend on your chain of command and the actions you have performed.

Lost in thought, I almost missed my best friend’s name being called. I stand proudly beside my friend and wait for the Colonel to award him for his stellar service. In dismay, I watch as they awarded him The Order of the Spur. This is no small honor, however, after a year on ground and countless operations, my friend being snubbed was a slap in the face.

Then my name is called.

“Corporal Freeman, for your service to your country, blah, blah, blah, you are awarded the Army Commendation Medal and The Order of the Spur.”

I salute the Colonel and the next name is called. “This isn’t right, my buddy should have something for all the hard work he did in Iraq!”

When the lower enlisted names have been called out and given their awards for their service, it was time for the Senior Enlisted and Officers to receive their praise. To my dismay, the lowest award given to each was a Bronze Star. I nearly bite my tongue in half over a few of the names that are called.

“They did nothing to deserve a Bronze Star! Heck, most of them never left the FOB!”

Alas, it was the first of many ceremonies where those deserving of high praise are snubbed, and those who failed to perform the basic tasks are given more praise than they deserve. To this day, I find it difficult to swallow the concept of awards.

However, it does bring me a great sense of relief to know I will never have to experience another ceremony.

02 February 2020

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