Baby It’s Cold Outside

Haven’t heard of the Cold War Victory Medal? We hadn’t either until one presidential candidate voiced support while stumping to a group of veterans. For over a decade there has been a movement afoot to win approval for the award. Though one might wonder about its validity and merit, supporters have no question. Even the period is defined with precision — Sept. 2, 1945, to Dec. 26, 1991. DoD has argued against the medal based on cost concerns with the tab totaling $10 a vet — or more than $200 million. The other and more compelling argument is reported Pentagon policy that such a campaign award not overlap with other campaign awards. The Cold War Victory Medal would overlap with “the Korean Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal, to name a few.”

A compromise of sorts was reached in 1998, and a certificate has been available since 1999. DoD again stated its position in early 2002.

But what’s a dead issue to lawmakers? New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Maine Sen. Susan Collins introduced a bill for the medal in the Senate. There seemed to be strong support this year in the House, and lawmakers included support for the medal in their version of the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill, though it did not make its way into the final bill.

Well-meaning members? Maybe self-serving. Such feel-good “awards” can cheapen the meaning of other military decorations and divert attention from substantive issues. The proposed Cold War Victory Medal would be “awarded” just for attending the party on active duty for 180 days. Did we “win” the “Cold War?” It sounds nice, and we like to think so. But a medal seems rather ungracious and in-your-face, which may be a sign of the times. If we did in fact win this Cold War, then maybe we should continue with quiet dignity and with no need for a ribbon with a piece of medal attached.

Awards other than the Medal of Honor virtually were unheard of until World War I. Service is service. Honor is honor. Maybe the true reward is in the knowing of one’s contribution.

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