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Commentary: Dakota Meyer's plea to respect military service members should be heeded

Today, President Barack Obama will give Dakota Meyer an award the former Marine would rather not have.

Meyer, of Adair County Kentucky, will receive the nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic efforts in Afghanistan on Sept. 8, 2009, when he made several trips in a Humvee into a valley trying to save his fellow service members who had been ambushed there.

Despite his efforts, several people died that day, including four members of his embedded training team. Meyer, later promoted to the rank of sergeant, retrieved their bodies.

"I went in there to get those guys out alive and I failed. So I think it's more fitting to call me a failure than a hero," he told the Herald-Leader's Bill Estep.

He's meeting the president and getting the big award but it's not what he really wants. "That would be the most amazing (thing) out of all this ... if they could bring my guys back."

Although he's the first living Marine to receive the medal in almost 40 years Meyer, 23, has been a reluctant public figure. He's said repeatedly that he's only interested in honoring the heroic men who died that day.

The events of that day have stirred controversy because calls for air support from Meyer and others went unanswered. Following an investigation Army officers were reprimanded for negligent leadership. Meyer himself disobeyed orders by going in at all.

Meyer, who is now a civilian, says that men and women in the armed services don't get enough recognition or support from the public. "I don't think they understand the sacrifices that people are giving."

Anyone who goes into combat comes back with problems, he said.

Meyer is doing his part by raising money for scholarships for the children of wounded Marines.

We should listen to Meyer.

We owe it to him to heed his message that there are many heroes who give so much without receiving the same full measure in support from the country they serve.

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