Tears slid down the face of the president of America yesterday as he presented the nation's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, to a New Yorker, Jason Dunham, who had been a corporal of the Marines. We've already written about the award in these columns. What struck us yesterday as we watched the ceremony in the East Wing of the White House was the contrast between the posthumous honor for a man who did his duty way beyond its call and the spectacle of the Congress preparing to dig in its heels against an attack on the enemies who slew Dunham and are swarming against our ally in the democratically elected government of Iraq and, strategically, against our own country and Israel.
Marine Corporal Dunham received the award for his actions on April 14, 2004. On that day, during a hand-to-hand struggle with an insurgent, Corporal Dunham spotted a live grenade drop and roll along the ground. He lunged to cover it with his helmet and his body. It is one of the classic actions for which the Medal of Honor has been given over the decades. Dunham's action saved the lives of his two comrades. He died eight days later from injuries he sustained in the blast. Dunham, said Mr. Bush in his statement, "showed the world what it means to be a Marine."
He showed Congress as well. Even as the Democrats were beating their chests against the idea of reinforcing our GIs under fire on the field of battle, Dunham's example stood in defiance. Dunham lived out the famous slogan "leave no Marine behind." Mr. Bush described him as being committed to "make sure that everyone makes it home alive." That's why he signed up for an additional two months of duty with his squad in Iraq even though he knew he might have to pay the ultimate price for his dedication, as he eventually did.
Democrats are lining up to heap scorn on the troop surge the commander in chief has ordered under authority the Congress previously gave him — and maneuver in the Congress to block either reinforcements or the hot pursuit of the Iranians. Dunham's example of what it means to leave no one behind could not stand in sharper or prouder relief. Dunham refused to leave his comrades when given an easy out, and even in death he will inspire Americans to do the same. The cost of war is enormous, something Mr. Bush clearly understands. The tears that slid down his face in public yesterday gave testament to the depth of his feelings. No doubt thousands of others shed them, moved to the quick by the glory of one man's courage.