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Saturday, Jan 28, 2023
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Showing Their Mettle with a Medal

So, David Honda won the Fernando Award and Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. We humans love to win awards, medals, commendations, or whatever one calls that which separates us from the herd. In show biz, the Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, and a few dozen more of diminishing importance, are more than recognition, they are often worth millions in the bank. Of course, there are those who put their distinctions in the proper perspective: Speaking to the 300th graduating class of his alma mater, Yale University, on May 21, 2001, President George W. Bush said, “To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, may I say, well done.” And then, with a wry grin, he added, “and to the C students, I say, you too can be President of the United States.” Our military, like those of almost every nation, bestows medals and ribbons upon those who have sacrificed in time of war. Our highest recognition is simply called the “Medal of Honor.” Since it is presented by the President on behalf of the Congress, it is usually – although inaccurately – called the “Congressional Medal of Honor.” Nearly 150 years ago, On December 9, 1861, Senator James W. Grimes of Iowa introduced a bill calling for the production and distribution of “medals of honor”. President Lincoln signed the bill and the Medal of Honor was born. While there is nothing in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that mandates that a Medal of Honor recipient be saluted by a general, admiral, or any other officer – including the Commander in Chief – it is a long-standing informal tradition that is nearly universally adhered to in the armed services. It is not the man (there are no living women Medal of Honor recipients) who is being saluted, it is the award. There have been a total of 3,448 honorees, 95 of whom are still living. Nineteen individuals have won this award twice. The only woman awarded the Medal of Honor, Mary Walker, was recognized for her bravery at the Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. There have been 87 African-American, 41 Hispanic-American, 31 Asian-American, and 22 Native-American recipients of the Medal of Honor. These are some of my favorite-named awards from other countries: Mongolian Order of the Polar Star (USSR), Anti-Partisan Badge (Nazi Germany), Healthcare Reservist of the Year (Wales), Order of the Bath (United Kingdom), Order of Saint Andrew the First-Called (Imperial Russia), Order of the White Eagle (Poland), Medal of Brilliant Helmet (Taiwan), Golden Leopard Award (South Africa), Order of Michael the Brave (Romania), Order of the Golden Fleece (Spain), and the Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky (Ukraine). Here in Our Valley, we’re equally dedicated to awards. Here are some popular Valley recognitions; can you match them with the organizations that bestow them? The awards: 1) The Golden Horn, 2) Circle of Life, 3) Steve Allen Excellence in Education Award, 4) Joseph Staller Award, and 5) Ken Banks Award. The organizations: a) Valley Economic Alliance, b) Valley Cultural Center, c) Woodland Hills-Tarzana Chamber, d) Universal City North Hollywood Chamber, e) Jewish Home for the Aging’s Executives (answers below). Most awards given out by Valley organizations are to recognize – and therefore stimulate – volunteerism or community service. I have always believed that there is a co-mingling of honors that should be separated. Individuals who are tasked to become involved in supporting communities as part of their job should not be included in the same awards category as those who volunteer and assist charitable organizations and social agencies on their own. Similarly, those who are active in chambers of commerce and other business organizations should not be recognized in the same category as those who support the Pacific Lodge Boys Home, Haven Hills, New Horizons, or New Directions for Youth. Therefore, I propose a new, three-award approach to recognition: The Medal of Mulholland Curve with Oak Leaf Clusters is to be awarded to the best performance in community service by someone who is paid to do so. Serving as an officer in any civic, philanthropic, or community organization shall entitle such a medal winner to a five percent salary bonus. The Order of Leonis Adobe Stucco with Crossed Trowels shall be bestowed upon an individual who has contributed significantly to Valley business and civic organizations. Special recognition is to be given to an awardee who has attended more than 25 mixers in any one year. The Edgar Rice Burroughs Honorific with Jane and Cheetah Rampant is to be pinned to the chest of someone who has excelled in true volunteerism with charitable organizations or social agencies with no thought of personal gain. Those who are recognized with this award must, prior to receiving the Honorific, attest to have never monkeyed around. Answers: Golden Horn (b), Circle of Life (e), Steve Allen Excellence in Education Award (a), Joseph Staller Award (c), Ken Banks Award (d). “I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.” – Jack Benny Martin Cooper is President of Cooper Communications, Inc.

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