When I read that a school had been named in honor of SFC Paul Ray Smith, I was overjoyed. While I think this is a relatively small thing, it does assure us that a handful of school children will learn the story of one of the best and the brightest, a true hero, who sacrificed his life to allow them to live in peace and freedom. Perhaps his legacy will inspire these young people to aspire to more.
We are a nation that misuses our language. The word HERO, for instance. How often do we hear that misused? Far too often for me. A football player is not a hero for catching a pass. A movie actor is not a hero for acting in a movie. A singer is not a hero for having an album go gold. They are people who are overpaid and over worshipped, but they are not heroes.
Recently, a friend, and former Marine, was helping his daughter with her homework. She had to read the newspaper every day and write a report on a "hero" of her choice, that she found in the news. Each day they would go through the paper looking for a story about a hero. Each day, they wouldn't find anything. This was because our friend had a totally different definition of hero than the teacher did. His daughter finally wrote her paper on what a hero was to her, and how rare they really were. It was a great paper! Perhaps the children at the Paul Ray Smith School will learn the same lesson. We must celebrate these rare people who are heroes. We must never forget them.
HERO - Any man noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose; especially one who has risked or sacrificed his life. (From the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)
SFC Paul Ray Smith was a hero. He gave the ultimate sacrifice to rescue and protect his men. He went beyond what most of us would even think of doing. In the process, he sacrificed his life for them. He was a man who had much to live for - a husband, a father, a son, a brother, and a brother in arms.
His awards are many:
Medal of Honor, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (4OLC), Army Achievement Medal (5OLC), Good Conduct Medal (3d award), National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, South West Asia Service Medal(3 bronze stars), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal , Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army NCO Professional Development Ribbon (2d award), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (3d award), NATO Medal (Kosovo), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait), Valorous Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award, German Marksmanship Badge, French Armed Forces Commando Badge.
There is a wonderful presentation on SFC Paul Ray Smith on the Army site.
If you have not read his Medal of Honor Citation, I would encourage you to.
For a presentation of the battlefield in which he lost his life, go to the Battlescape.
For videos about SFC Paul Ray Smith.
SFC Paul Ray Smith is my hero. I will NEVER forget him. I will never forget what he gave to me. I will never forget to thank him for the freedoms that I enjoy each day. God Bless you, SFC Paul Ray Smith.