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Peggy Noonan on receiving journalism award from Medal of Honor Society

Last week, my friend and the late Pres. Reagan’s celebrated speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, and I spent time together at the national Medal of Honor convention in Charleston, S.C.

I was there as media director, among other things.

Peggy was there to receive the Tex McCrary Journalism Award presented by the Medal of Honor Society.

Upon receiving the award, Peggy made the following comments, which were so stirring – as her words usually are – that we’re publishing them here.


“Many people are going to speak tonight, and I’ll be brief. 

“Let me tell you where I start. I am of course honored to receive this award, and delighted to be in Charleston, but I am awed to be in your presence.

“There are many great honors bestowed by the world. The presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nobel prize, the Pulitzer in my profession, and the Peabody. 

“These are august awards.

“But there is only one great recognizing-honor that really catches the throat, that makes people stop in their tracks when they hear of it, that makes them stand.

“They think, ‘That guy did something incredible to deserve it, tell me the story.’ 

“And that is the Medal of Honor.

“And we know, by the way, what the Medal of Honor is in part from kids.

“Kids are the common sense arbiters of the world.

“They’ll be in a school yard and a kid says, ‘My father’s a doctor’ and another says ‘My uncle’s a football coach,’ and another says ‘Yeah, well my father’s rich.’

“Then a kid says, ‘My grandfather won the Medal of Honor.’ 

“Well, argument won, case closed, competition over.

“So you can imagine what I feel to receive this award from the likes of you.
“And I want to tell you, that moment – a few minutes ago – when the 51 present and surviving Medal of Honor recipients came down that aisle, one after another, looking like the modest men they are, and some of them even shy, and they’re from World War II, and Korea, and Vietnam. 

“It was like the history of valor was marching down that aisle, and a history of denial of self, of ego, for they all put others before themselves on the day they earned their award.  

“What a parade of greatness.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. 

“Thank you for putting it in my memory bank.”

[end of Peggy’s remarks]

Impossible to improve on that.

Written By

Mr. Smith is a contributor to Human Events. A former U.S. Marine rifle-squad leader and counterterrorism instructor, he writes about military/defense issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraq and Lebanon. He is the author of six books, and his articles appear in a variety of publications. E-mail him at

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