Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What Is Honor?


General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 20 (March 29, 1945)

"The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to

FIRST LIEUTENANT (INFANTRY) JIMMIE W. MONTEITH, JR.
UNITED STATES ARMY

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, while serving with 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, in action near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. First Lieutenant Monteith landed with the initial assault waves on the coast of France under heavy enemy fire. Without regard to his own personal safety he continually moved up and down the beach reorganizing men for further assault. He then led the assault over a narrow protective ledge and across the flat, exposed terrain to the comparative safety of a cliff. Retracing his steps across the field to the beach, he moved over to where two tanks were buttoned up and blind under violent enemy artillery and machinegun fire. Completely exposed to the intense fire, First Lieutenant Monteith led the tanks on foot through a minefield and into firing positions. Under his direction several enemy positions were destroyed. He then rejoined his company and under his leadership his men captured an advantageous position on the hill. Supervising the defense of his newly won position against repeated vicious counterattacks, he continued to ignore his own personal safety, repeatedly crossing the 200 or 300 yards of open terrain under heavy fire to strengthen links in his defensive chain. When the enemy succeeded in completely surrounding First Lieutenant Monteith and his unit and while leading the fight out of the situation, First Lieutenant Monteith was killed by enemy fire. The courage, gallantry, and intrepid leadership displayed by First Lieutenant Monteith is worthy of emulation.
/S/ FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

First Lieutenant Jimmie Waters Monteith, Jr., United States Army
July 1, 1917 – June 6, 1944
Honor.

What is it exactly?

I looked in the dictionary, there were definitions - honor as a noun, honor as a verb.

Synonyms.

Antonyms.

I was left...

Unsatisfied.

I did a search for images of honor.

For the most part, I was sorely disappointed by the results.

It seems honor no longer counts for much in our popular culture.

However, there was one image which spoke to me. It led me to another, which led me to the story of 1Lt Monteith. This ladies and gentlemen, is a portrait of honor.
Jimmie Waters Monteith Jr. was born on July 1, 1917 in Low Moor, Virginia. His family moved to Richmond, Virginia, when he was nine years old. After elementary school, he attended Thomas Jefferson High School, where he played a year each of varsity football and varsity basketball. Known in high school as "Punk," he graduated in 1937. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI) for two years, 1937–1939, majoring in mechanical engineering. While at VPI, he was a member of K Battery in the Corps of Cadets, The prestigious G.E.R.M.A.N. Club of VPI and the Richmond Sectional Club. He returned to Richmond at the end of his sophomore year and worked as a field representative for the Cabell Coal Company, where his father was vice president. He was drafted into the army in October 1941 and sent to Camp Croft, South Carolina, for basic training.

During basic training, he was promoted to corporal and applied for officer training. He was accepted and sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, completing the course in March 1942, when he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant. He was then transferred to Fort McClellan, Alabama, where he helped train the 15th Battalion. In February 1943, he was transferred into the 30th Division at Camp Blanding, Florida, to begin training in preparation for being shipped overseas to fight in the war.

In April 1943 he was shipped to Algeria, where he joined the 1st Division (Big Red One). The division moved to Sicily in July 1943, and he received a field promotion to 1st lieutenant during the campaign. The division moved to England in November 1943 to prepare for the Normandy invasion.

He is buried at the American cemetery in Normandy, Colleville-sur-Mer, Basse-Normandie, France. His grave can be found in section I, row 20, grave 12. - Wikipedia

10 comments:

  1. Real people overcoming fear to do what they said they'd do no matter how difficult.
    Rest in peace Lieutenant. You earned it.

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  2. It isn't that picture of one among many etched in gold.

    All of one's life is all that one can give for honor. The glittery bits would be returned with favor by all who wear them who knew some unrecognized hero. I think we all knew them.

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    1. You're right Cap'n. It's just the picture which made me want to know the man whose name is carved on that cross.

      I'm sure he'd dispute his hero status. Most real heroes do.

      Delete
  3. It seems honor no longer counts for much in our popular culture.

    I think the key words in the quoted bit are "popular culture." We both know that honor is still a valid concept in certain circles, if not the ONLY concept.

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    1. I chose the phrase "popular culture" for precisely that reason Buck.

      Our clan gets it. Sad that so many do not.

      Delete
  4. Hero is a term thrown about far too loosely these days. Firefighters are not heros. Cops are not heros. Even most soldiers are not heros, they are just doing their jobs. After my time in the Navy, I was in public safety for almost 25 years...firefighter, paramedic, law enforcement...all noble callings, but even given the things I did, the people I saved, I never considered myself a hero although many called me that. I looked at it as doing the job I chose and loved, nothing more. Heros are the ones who step up when everything is going against them. The Lt. in the story above; the young man standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square; the kid who took out the shooter last week at the college here in Seattle...these are heros...and they have honor. While finding honor in today's society is getting more and more rare, it's out there. If you know where to look, it's out there.

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    Replies
    1. Couldn't agree more Chris.

      Delete
    2. Lt. Monteith was a hero. I like C. Johnson's definition of hero, 'who step up when everything is going against them. Hero is used far too frequently today, especially by your political types.

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)