On 19 August, I was contacted by the father of a Marine sergeant killed in action in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, earlier in the summer. I had met and come to know the young man’s family during his “Dignified Transfer” ceremony at Dover Air Force Base. The father, reiterating repeatedly that he made no presumptions, told me he was ordering the final engraving on his son’s gravestone. The sergeant’s unit buddies had indicated to the father that they believed an individual commendation would be forthcoming for his actions. The proud father, wishing to include such a distinction on the stone, simply wanted to know if it made sense to hold off on the engraving.
Meanwhile, that same week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a federal law known as the Stolen Valor Act, which criminalized the wearing of unearned military awards, was unconstitutional and an infringement on the right to free speech.