ACCESSION NUMBER:286318 FILE ID:TXT504 DATE:05/28/93 TITLE:MEMORIAL DAY (05/28/93) TEXT:*93052804.TXT MEMORIAL DAY (VOA Editorial) (470) (Following is an editorial, to be broadcast by the Voice of America May 31, reflecting American ideals and institutions.) Today Americans celebrate Memorial Day -- a time to honor those who have given their lives in defense of their country. They include a 21-year-old schoolteacher named Nathan Hale. As a captain in the Continental Army during America's War for Independence, Hale volunteered for a dangerous intelligence mission behind enemy lines. Captured and sentenced to death by the British, Hale won the admiration of his foes and his fellow Americans for his dignity, courage, and devotion to duty. As the hangman's noose was placed around his neck, Hale remarked, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." As the world's oldest government dedicated to freedom and equality under law, the United States has a special reason to honor the bravery of those who died in defense of these principles. For many years, however, no special medal or decoration was awarded by the American military for exceptional heroism. But the Civil War tested the courage and devotion of Americans as no other conflict before or since. Over two million Americans took part in the Civil War, and nearly one out of every three was killed or wounded. To honor the bravest of the brave, the U.S. Congress, in 1861, authorized a decoration called the Medal of Honor, to be presented by the president on behalf of Congress and the American people. The Medal of Honor is awarded to American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life and beyond the call of duty." In a moment of supreme crisis, these Americans chose to put the life of their country and the safety of their comrades-in-arms ahead of their own life and safety. 1 One such hero was Marine Lance Corporal Richard Anderson. During a desperate battle with Vietnamese Communist troops in August 1969, Anderson was badly wounded in both legs. He continued to fire at the enemy -- repulsing their attack and sustaining a third serious wound. Moments later, a live hand grenade landed near Corporal Anderson and his fellow marines. Covering the exploding grenade with his body, Anderson was instantly killed. But he had saved the lives of his friends. For those slain Americans whose bodies were never recovered and whose last acts of heroism are known only to God, a Medal of Honor has been placed at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. They share with all of America's war dead a tribute paid by Admiral Chester Nimitz to the Americans he led in the Second World War. Among them, he said, "Uncommon valor was a common virtue." NNNN .