HIAWATHA, Ia. - LuAnn and I attended the home town parade for Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta. It was a cold evening but something that we just couldn't miss, an Iowa hero. We found a lit up street corner and waited for something unexpected.
One of the most important military courtesies is the salute. It is a respectful greeting, a sign of recognition between military people. I wore my Navy cover during the parade. I decided to salute the most recent decorated Medal of Honor hero instead of the usual waving and applauding.
Guinta rode high and proud onboard a local firetruck. It was lit up and displayed the passengers very well.
The supporters and display of fire and rescue equipment was enormous. It was really something to see and take part of.
It passed our corner. Guinta was waving and thanking the crowd when he spotted me saluting.
He snapped to, looked me right in the eyes and returned the greeting. We dropped our arms at the same moment. I nodded and he nodded in return. I could visualize the heroism I'd heard about on the news, at the same time.
Guinta refreshed a long forgotten brotherhood we all shared.
NOTE: Guinta, the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, has his own thoughts about the events that led to the medal.
"I'm average. I'm mediocre," he told the New York Times, "This is only one moment. I don't think I did anything that anyone else I was with wouldn't have done. I was in a position to do it. That was what needed to be done. So that's what I did."
He repeated it on CBS 60 Minutes. he won't reject the medal, but he does say he will wear it to honor all soldiers who deserve the medal.
That kind of brotherhood does not change.
The humility of people who rise to the challenge also does not change.
About the author
Dan Hilton's enlistment was from 1972-1975 aboard the USS Sarsfield (DD 837), at the height of the Cold War, 10 years before Guinta was born.