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Auchter's Art: Medal of Honor recipient, with humility and bravery, towers over the president

Aug 4, 2017

On Monday, July 31, former Army medic and Vietnam War veteran James McCloughan was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by the president at a White House ceremony.

His story is breathtaking. In 1969, during the Battle of Nui Yon Hill, McCloughan's company came under heavy fire and was in full retreat. As his fellow soldiers ran for cover, McCloughan was consistently moving in the opposite direction and into harm's way to collect the wounded and bring them to safety. 

Even when he himself was wounded, McCloughan refused to quit. In the end, he is credited with saving ten soldiers over three days of fighting. Reflecting back on this, McCloughan said: "I'd rather die on the battlefield than have heard later on that one of my men didn't make it because their medic was not there."

(NPR has a more detailed — and better told — account of the story here.) 

Editorial cartoonists often get accused of "politicizing" things that some people feel should not be politicized. I can see how some may feel this way about today's cartoon. But for me, it's not at all about politics; it's about character and the stark, stark difference between the two men at the ceremony.

Mr. McCloughan is the quintessential American hero. After Vietnam, he returned to Michigan and spent 40 years teaching geography, sociology, and psychology at South Haven High School. In addition, he coached football, wrestling, and baseball. Humble. Brave. Selfless. A thoroughly decent human being.

I'll leave it at that.

John Auchter is an editorial cartoonist. Views expressed in his cartoons are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.