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The Army honored a fallen hero of the Fort Hood Jihad Massacre with a medal this week. Not, of course, that the Army describes the November 2009 attack in such meaningful terms. Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan may have shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “Allah is great”) as he killed 14 and wounded more than two dozen; may have been in contact with jihad cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and frequented jihadist websites; may have had business cards proclaiming himself a “SoA” (Soldier of Allah); and may have created and presented an Islamically correct PowerPoint brief outlining reasons for jihad by Muslims within the U.S. Armed Forces, but no matter. His actions remain a total mystery to the U.S. Army.
To wit: “Although we may never know why it happened, we do know that heroic actions took place that day,” Brig. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo said in presenting the Secretary of the Army Award for Valor to Joleen Cahill, widow of Michael Grant Cahill. Cahill is recognized as the first person to have tried to stop Hasan and the only civilian to have been killed by Hasan that day. “He will forever be a source of inspiration.”
Alas, I have my doubts about the deputy commanding general of Fort Hood. Despite overwhelming evidence that Hasan committed an act of jihad, DiSalvo – like the Army, like the U.S. government – looks the other way. “We may never know why” the Hasan attack happened, DiSalvo said without, apparently, turning red or rolling his eyes.
It’s hard to overstate the impact of these words. In honoring the very last thing Cahill did on this Earth, the general pointedly chose to omit its significance. Like a potent spell, his words made all the context of the 62-year-old Cahill’s valorous act – charging Hasan with a chair as Hasan fired on the crowd – disappear. Of course, the general’s omission takes nothing away from Cahill’s courage. It does, however, wrongly release the rest of us from our debt to Cahill. In treating Hasan’s rampage as no more purposeful than a flood or a cougar attack, the general has also reduced Cahill’s ultimate sacrifice to its most personal level; exemplary, admirable, but of no consequence beyond the scene, outside the circle. This is morally wrong. It was the general’s duty to place Cahill’s death in perspective, to impress upon both his loved ones and his fellow citizens that he died not only to stop a bloodletting but also in defense of liberty, then and now under jihadist attack.
In other words, the general flinched. No surprise there. Fort Hood may have been a war zone that day, but, with few exceptions (Texas Republicans Rep. John Carter and Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn are pressing to see Purple Hearts awarded), neither our military nor our government has the courage to admit it.
There is a ripple effect. This Memorial Day, by U.S. government reckoning, by U.S. military non-fiat, the Fort Hood fallen do not rate remembrance as war dead. As a result, there have been no Purple Hearts awarded to military dead and wounded (as there were to casualties of the 9/11 attacks), no combat death benefits awarded to their survivors, no recognition of Hasan’s jihad. Indeed, as the general says, we may never even know why they died.
This is just the way our leadership wants it – “senseless,” as President Obama put it, describing another 2009 jihadist attack the U.S. government refuses to recognize as an act of war, this one in Little Rock in which Pvt. William Long was killed and Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula was severely wounded outside a military recruiting station. The trial, which begins in July, is currently subject to a tug-of-war, almost literally, between the lawyers and defendant Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad. Prosecutor Larry Jegley is determined to prosecute Muhammad as “nothing but a street thug” accused of “just a drive-by shooting”; defense attorneys want Muhammad to plead insanity; while Muhammad, a Muslim convert who may have studied with a jihadist imam in Yemen where he drew the attention of the FBI, is pleading, strenuously, to be tried as a sane, confessed jihadist. Like the U.S. military, like the White House, the court seems to be pushing jihad, kicking and screaming in this case, down the memory hole.
Which makes you wonder: By next Memorial Day, who will remember?