A few years back, during the Media Research Center's annual gala I was honored to pay tribute to the family of a real American hero, Michael Murphy, the Navy SEAL posthumously awarded the first Congressional Medal of Honor for service in Afghanistan, and the first since the Vietnam War. Few in the room knew the story because only Fox and a handful of other outlets told it.
When the medal was announced in 2007, William Kristol noted on “Fox News Sunday” that the news received a tiny fraction of the coverage given to the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel that year was awarded to Al Gore and the UN “climate change” alarmists. That award received endless accolades from the sycophantic press. Kristol joked about the fans oozing over “what sacrifices he made” to make a scary documentary (while making fortunes of money off the issue as well).
Murphy made the ultimate sacrifice -- his life -- and yet, as Kristol noted about the Long Island native, not even the “all the news that’s fit to print” people covered the story. “Michael Murphy gets the congressional Medal of Honor, and the New York Times, our leading newspaper and the local newspaper in this case, can't notice it. There’s something sick about our culture when we don’t acknowledge genuine heroes.”
The Times quietly addressed that offense with a single story – on page B-1, the front page of the Metro section – eight days later, on the morning the Murphy family went to the White House to accept the honor from President Bush.
What had Murphy done? In a fierce firefight with the Taliban, vastly outnumbered, Murphy stood up in the line of fire to make a satellite call for help to save his men, knowing he would surely be killed by exposing himself this way. His mother said, “It didn’t shock me what he did, it was just Mike. That was pure Mike.”
Now -- finally! -- this story has been taken into theaters, with the movie “Lone Survivor,” based on the memoir by Marcus Luttrell, the only SEAL to survive that day. The result: it “red-white-and-blew away the box office,” reported TheWrap.com, scoring one of the biggest opening weekends ever in January, with $37.8 million, second only to a 2008 monster movie called “Cloverfield.” It received a rare “A+ rating” from audiences surveyed by CinemaScore, meaning the word of mouth will push it to greater success, with an expected box-office gross larger than $100 million.
TheWrap.com quoted Afghanistan veteran Chris Marvin: “If civilians don’t accept their civic obligation to know some history from our nation’s longest conflict, then why did we send our young men and women into harm’s way in the first place?”
Actor Mark Wahlberg, who plays Luttrell in the film, told CNN that people need to see this film: “They need to know about it and it's my job to get as many people into the theaters to see it as possible. I've never felt more strongly about something that I've been a part of. I've never been more proud to be a part of a project like this.”
CNN anchor Jake Tapper – himself the author of a book on American valor in Afghanistan – walked into a rhetorical buzzsaw by telling Luttrell, “One of the emotions I felt while watching the film is, first of all, just the hopelessness of the situation,” and “ I don't want any more senseless American death, and at the same time I know that there are bad people there and good people who need help.”
Luttrell responded abruptly, reflecting the courage that combat brings: “Well, I don't know what part of the film you were watching, but hopelessness really ever came into it. Where did you see that? We never felt like we were hopelessly lost or anything like that. We never gave up. We never felt like we were losing unless we were actually dead. That never came across in the battle and while we were fighting on the mountain and it was just us against them.”
Soldiers accept dangerous missions without questioning the wisdom of their commanders. The public can question their commanders, but no one should question the resolve of these warrriors. That sacrifice they make for us – especially the ultimate sacrifice – deserves more national gratitude, and I’m sure that families like the Murphys are going to have their hearts warmed to see this story finally spread from sea to shining sea, embraced by a grateful nation.