Yesterday was Veteran's Day, and we decided to honor the day by attending the ceremony that took place at Veteran's Park. Since they were dedicating a monument for Gold Star families (families of fallen service members who died in conflict) it was a heart wrenching, emotional day.
While I was there, I met Elaine Johnson, a gold star mother who made an impassioned speech about how we should all be united in our efforts, no matter what color our skin is or where we come from. I was blown away by her strength, not only to show up and speak about something no parent should ever have to go through, but also that she could stand so tall and convincing in her message of unity. After the ceremony was over, after I said good-bye to everyone, and had lunch, and went home, memories of her still stayed with me.
I began to browse around online, reading about different veterans and their stories when I saw a story about the youngest person to ever receive the Medal of Honor. His name is Kyle Carpenter.
If you don't know what the Medal of Honor is, it's our country's highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that may be awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor, normally awarded by the President for gallantry at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.
How did Kyle Carpenter earn his Medal of Honor?
Lance Corporal Carpenter was a member of a platoon-sized coalition force, comprised of two reinforced Marine rifle squads partnered with an Afghan National Army squad. The platoon had established Patrol Base Dakota two days earlier in a small village in the Marjah District in order to disrupt enemy activity and provide security for the local Afghan population. Lance Corporal Carpenter and a fellow Marine were manning a rooftop security position on the perimeter of Patrol Base Dakota when the enemy initiated a daylight attack with hand grenades, one of which landed inside their sandbagged position. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own safety, Lance Corporal Carpenter moved toward the grenade in an attempt to shield his fellow Marine from the deadly blast. When the grenade detonated, his body absorbed the brunt of the blast, severely wounding him, but saving the life of his fellow Marine
In simple terms, Kyle Carpenter jumped on a grenade to save his friend.
If I did the math correctly, Kyle had just turned 21 years old when this happened. We have these wars that old men start for young men to fight, and too many of them don't come back, or they come back so broken they'll never be the same. The idea that a young man was even in the position where he had to choose whether or not to jump on a grenade is hard to imagine. The fact that he did it is too hard to wrap my mind around. It's honorable that he was awarded a medal for it, but it's really not enough.
I feel like the least we can do for guys like Kyle and all the veterans and all the military members who gave their lives for our country is to give them the respect they deserve, by knowing who they are and keeping them in our prayers. I didn't know Kyle's story before yesterday and I want more people to know about him, especially since he's from South Carolina. He was born in Mississippi, but he graduated high school at WW King Academy in Batesburg, South Carolina, and also attended the University of South Carolina after his military service, graduating with a degree in International Studies.
Heck yeah, Kyle, Go Cocks!
As if he hasn't given enough, Kyle also spends his time fundraising for veterans and military members and he's written a book, called "You Are Worth It." He's active on Instagram if you want to follow him.
His account name?