We don’t hear much these days about military acts of heroism. At least, we don’t hear about them like we did from WWI or WWII. Maybe a smaller town will do a feature on a local soldier/ marine/ airman/ sailor, but if you’re not local, you’re unlikely to hear about them. One feature of all of the stories you can read in the Medal of Honor database here https://mohmuseum.org/recipient-database/ is how the recipients saved their fellows, often sacrificing their own lives to do it.
While the Medal of Honor is given for valor during armed conflict, the military branches have an equivalent medal, the Soldier’s Medal/ Airman’s Medal/ Navy and Marine Corps Medal/ Coast Guard Medal. This highest non-combat honor hinges on the actual level of personal “life threatening” risk experienced by the awardee. For heroic performance to rise to this level it must be clearly established that the act involved very specific life-threatening risk to the awardee.
I met a Navy Medal recipient once. He was a friend of a friend. I remember his as a relatively small man, shy, with a dark sense of humor. He could also do hands-over-head push-ups. Impressive. When my friend added that this man had a Sailor’s Medal, I was really impressed and I told him so.
While one act does not make a Hero’s Journey, both of these medals show the aspect I personally believe makes the difference – saving others. This facet mirrors the stage of the Hero’s Journey, “Return to the village with the magic” in that the act of valor is about others and not just saving yourself.
The Hero’s Journey requires growth, change, risk, and sharing your message. I am certain that some of these military service members completed a Hero’s Journey in their life, whether the honored valorous act was a part or not.
Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash