In a poignant ceremony today in the East Room, President Obama awarded a Medal of Honor for valor above and beyond the call of duty to an Army Specialist who died while serving in Cambodia in 1970.
The story of Leslie H. Sabo, Jr.'s courage and sacrifice was almost lost to history. In 1999, Alton Mabb, a Vietnam veteran from the 101st, was doing research at the National Archives when he found a file that included a proposed citation for the Medal of Honor for Leslie Sabo. Mabb began the work to make sure Sabo was recognized for the heroic actions that saved the lives of his comrades, who meant more to him than life.
In honoring Sabo, President Obama also paid tribute to those who served alongside him in the Vietnam era.
Instead of being celebrated, our Vietnam veterans were often shunned. They were called many things, when there was only one thing that they deserved to be called -- and that was American patriots. In two weeks, on Memorial Day, Michelle and I will join our Vietnam veterans and their families at The Wall to mark the 50th anniversary of their service. It will be another chance for America to say to our Vietnam veterans what should have been said when you first came home: You did your job. You served with honor. You made us proud. And here today -- as I think Les would have wanted it -- I’d ask the members of Bravo Company to stand and accept the gratitude of our nation.
So yes, this Medal of Honor is bestowed on a single soldier for his singular courage. But it speaks to the service of an entire generation, and to the sacrifice of so many military families.