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Sergeant First Class Jared Monti was leading a reconnaissance mission on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2006 when the grenade hit.
Besieged, under fire, and outnumbered by the Taliban, Monti and his men dove for cover. But one of his men got hit. So Monti left his cover once, twice, then three times to try to retrieve him.
On the third try, Monti was hit by a grenade and died on the field.
For his service, Monti was awarded the Medal of Honor. And, as he presented Monti’s parents the award, President Obama captured full and well the meaning of his life and death.
“Do we truly understand the nature of these virtues, to serve and to sacrifice?” the President said. “Jared Monti knew. The Monti family knows. And they know that the actions we honor today were not a passing moment of courage. They were the culmination of a life of character and commitment.”
The President was right. Monti and his family have a unique and humbling understanding of service and sacrifice. They and the families of other fallen solders don’t pay lip service to these virtues. They live them every day.
Obama has an historic opportunity. He should send the mother of a fallen soldier to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of all the American service men and women who are the true peacekeepers.
This isn’t my idea. On Fox News last weekend, rising conservative star Liz Cheney proposed that the mother of a fallen soldier accept the award. Doing so would, in her words, “remind the Nobel committee that each one of them sleeps soundly at night because … the U.S. military is the greatest peacekeeping force in the world today.”
Liberal author and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman had a variation on the same good theme. He suggested that Obama go to Oslo, but that he accept the prize “on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century–the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.”
By nominating Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize just two weeks into his presidency, the Nobel Committee cynically hopes to make the President a pawn in their anti-American game. They prefer an America whose defining feature is weakness and whose defining approach to the world is amoral, toothless multilateralism.
Obama should resist this vision of America by sending its opposite to Oslo: Someone who hasn’t just mouthed the easy, empty words of global peace but someone who has genuinely sacrificed on its behalf.
He should send someone who’s very existence challenges the petty men and women of the Nobel Committee to admit that they are idealists on the cheap; righteous free riders on the men and women who do the real work of peace.
Admittedly, such a move would not be in keeping with some of Obama’s recent turns on the international stage. In his speeches to overseas audiences, the President has seemed apologetic for American strength and disdainful of American exceptionalism.
But the President himself has admitted that he doesn’t deserve the Nobel award. And by sending someone who does, he would bring more meaning and integrity to an award for “peace” than the Nobel Committee has shown.
For the question he asked as he honored Monti could well be asked of the members of the Nobel committee: Do they truly understand the nature of these virtues, of service and sacrifice?
SFC Jared Monti understood that day in Afghanistan. His family understands today. The price they have paid for this understanding should awe and humble us. It may even awe and humble the enlightened men and women of Oslo.
Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at AEI.
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